Know Your Prescriptions: The Case for Gabapentin as an Anxiety Medication

When seeking treatment for anxiety, there can be an overwhelming number of options to choose from. For some, simple daily tricks like breathing, exercise, eating well, or practicing meditation can go a long way. For others, counseling and therapy is extremely helpful. For some others, prescription medication might be the best option. Ultimately, it’s important to speak to a mental health professional to determine the best route of recovery.

However, it can also be helpful to have a basic understanding of the types of treatments and prescriptions out there. One prescription that is being used increasingly to treat anxiety is called gabapentin (or GBP). Here’s what you need to know about it.

Anxiety Treatment Teen

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Gabapentin’s Initial Development

Gabapentin (also known by its name brand of Neurontin) was approved by the FDA in 1993 for treatment of seizures and nerve ending pain after shingles. It is widely known to be an anticonvulsant or anti-epileptic drug. However, gabapentin is also often prescribed for many other health concerns that aren’t listed on its label including fibromyalgia, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, alcohol withdrawal, and migraines. It has also been successfully used to treat anxiety.

Anxiety Research

The use of gabapentin for anxiety treatment has been researched since the 1990s. For example, in 1999, one study showed that its use decreased symptoms of social phobia significantly. The 14-week study showed researchers that social anxiety levels dropped among those taking the gabapentin compared to the placebo. Social anxiety levels were interpreted by physician evaluations and patient rating scales.

Throughout the 2000s, other studies showed that gabapentin helped decrease symptoms of panic disorders, nervousness due to public speaking, pre-surgery anxiety and anxiousness resulting from taking anti-retrovirals to treat HIV.

Teens Anxiety Treatment

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Possible Limitations

However, research is still certainly limited when it comes to the use of gabapentin for anxiety treatment even though many doctors prescribe it. One doctor suggests that it “has a great side effect profile, it causes no drug-drug interactions, it isn’t addictive, and most clinicians…have seen robust anxiolytic responses with their own eyes.”

Of course it’s important to remember that all prescriptions come with side effects. Some of gabapentin’s for those over the age of 12 include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Mood swings
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Disordered thinking

How to Decide

With this information in mind, it’s ultimately important to speak to a medical professional about what treatment options are best for your teen. Everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique and their treatment options are unique as a result. Every prescription drug will have some risks associated with them but, when prescribed correctly, can also have positive outcomes too.

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