The information below is presented as a generalized and educational overview. The specific details of treatment protocols mentioned in this article may not reflect the protocols utilized by A Mission for Michael.
If you would like to learn more about AMFM’s individualized programs to aid those struggling with mental health disorders, please reach out.
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WHAT IS XANAX?
Those who are looking for mental health medication may be asking themselves “what is Xanax used for?” The drug Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is an SSRI and popular antidepressant used to treat the symptoms of anxiety. Like other benzodiazepines, this medication is a sedative. Xanax for anxiety is only one use for the drug. Over forty-eight million prescriptions for Xanax were filled in 2019 to treat a variety of mental illnesses.1
Alprazolam is the generic name for Xanax, but it’s also marketed as Alprazolam Intensol. There is no difference in the effects of alprazolam, regardless of name.
WHAT IS XANAX USED FOR?
As one of the most prescribed antidepressants drugs, Xanax has a variety of uses. Here are the most common.
Anxiety: Anxiety is a mood disorder that causes intense feelings of worry, doubt, and nervousness. These feelings persist despite external factors like having a happy work/life balance, positive relationships, etc. The damage from chronic anxiety can reduce the quality of life and health. Xanax for anxiety and other illnesses counteracts these feelings by stimulating GABA receptors in the brain. GABA produces calming effects in the brain.
Panic disorder: Panic disorders refer to a frantic, fearful state of mind that can lead to elevated breathing and heart rate. A person with anxiety has a higher chance of developing panic disorders and vice-a-verse.
Because of the versatile nature of stimulated GABA receptors, Xanax is used to treat more than panic and anxiety disorders. Here are the most common non-FDA-approved uses.
Insomnia: Because Xanax is a sedative similar to most antidepressants, it produces feelings of sleepiness and relaxation. As such, it can treat several sleep disorders, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and any other disorders that prevent decent sleep.
Premenstrual Syndrome: Premenstrual syndrome, better known as PMS, is a series of hormonal changes and symptoms that occur in women before their menstrual cycle begins. These changes can cause restless sleep. Should they persist, then Xanax is used as a long-term treatment.
Depression: Depression is a negative mental state characterized by poor mood, impaired cognitive function, and a bevy of other complex symptoms. Leading a fulfilling life with untreated depression is difficult, if not impossible. The condition affects millions of people in the U.S. every year and leads to several severe and long-term symptoms. Xanax for depression helps soothe the symptoms of the illnesses.
Xanax Dosage for Anxiety
The Xanax dosage for anxiety and depression varies based on medical history, gender, age, and other individualized factors. Here are the most common dosages.
The daily dosage of Xanax for anxiety is 4mg. Alprazolam is effective even if anxiety is a symptom of different disorders such as depression or ADHD. The drug is typically taken in the morning and afternoon and lasts throughout the day.
Panic disorders require a dosage of up to 6mg per day. However, the higher dosage runs the risk of improving tolerance to the drug, which in turn reduces effectiveness. Like Xanax for anxiety, the medicine is taken twice per day.
SIDE EFFECTS OF XANAX
Xanax side effects are most noticeable in the beginning as the body adjusts to the medication. However, they will persist if Xanax is taken over a period. Should you experience severe side effects for any length of time, then speak with your medical provider. That said, here are the most common Xanax side effects:3
Changes in sex drive
Anti-depressants can lower your sex drive. However, this side effect can ease over time. Additionally, a set routine of exercise and a healthy diet can counteract this symptom entirely.
Because Xanax changes your hormonal balance, you may be more prone to lose or gain weight. However, it’s unlikely that the change will be significant in either direction. Speak with your doctor about alternatives if your weight changes too much, too soon.
A short temper does not mean you will turn every conversation into a shouting match, but it can make you noticeably less patient. Being aware of this change and speaking with your doctor can help with this side effect. Often, Xanax is prescribed with therapy. Use your therapy to discuss any new feelings you may have.
Lethargy differs from drowsiness as it’s defined more by a lack of energy than sleep. A lethargic person may get a full night’s rest but still feel unable to get out of bed in the morning. Lethargy can also be a sign of depression. Speak with your doctor if this side effect persists.
Other side effects of Xanax use can include the following:4
Seizures: A Xanax or antidepressant allergy can disrupt brain signals resulting in seizures and labored breathing. Seizures, when left untreated, can lead to permanent brain damage and accidental harm. That said, seizures caused by Xanax are rare and typically only occur in the case of allergy or a co-occurring, undiagnosed illness.
Poor Coordination: More than dizziness, poor coordination can result in accidental injury and make it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks.
Yellow Skin: An excess of Xanax can impair the liver resulting in yellow skin, eyes, and severe tiredness.
XANAX INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER DRUGS
Xanax most commonly negatively interacts with drugs that have CYP3A in them. CYP3A is a liver-based enzyme used to break down chemicals. CYP3A drugs include antihistamines (cough medicines), antidepressants, and antifungals, to name a few.4
In addition, Xanax should not be mixed with alcohol as the combination of sedatives can cause labored breathing, sleep issues, and drug dependency. Always discuss your diet and any medications you use with a medical professional before starting Xanax to prevent any drug interactions.
Liver Problem Medications
Because Xanax, and other antidepressants, interact so heavily with liver enzymes, it serves to reason that Xanax interacts poorly with liver medications. Although rare, the medication can cause liver damage that counteracts liver medication. Common Xanax side effects of liver problems include fatigue, abdominal pain, and it occurs within one month of starting the medication.
Xanax overdose can occur accidentally if the anxiety pills are taken in excess or mixed with other substances such as alcohol. Here are the most common causes of Xanax overdose.
Tolerance occurs with any substance. Eventually, the efficacy of the dosage will reduce, and a higher dosage will be needed. It occurs up to a point where the risk of the dosage outweighs the benefits provided by the drug. Should a person abuse their tolerance or misjudge it, Xanax overdose can occur.
Dependence occurs when the drug is frequently taken over time. Dependence can come with Xanax cravings that may manifest as not being able to function without the drug. In a state of dependence, a person may take more of the drug than is recommended.
Typically, anti-anxiety medication isn’t abruptly stopped. Instead, the dosage is reduced to null to slowly wean a person off the drug. In extreme cases, Xanax withdrawal can result in seizures and increased mood instability.
THERAPIES FOR ANXIETY
Anxiety injection medicine and Xanax for anxiety disorders aren’t for everyone. There are alternative, natural methods for individuals who are unwilling or able to take Xanax for anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of therapy designed to change a person’s bad habits. It helps instill healthy coping mechanisms and provides cognitive tools to help ease the symptoms of anxiety.
Family Therapy is a form of talk therapy that helps create a healthy support system to counteract mental illness. It involves gathering all relevant family members in a therapeutic environment to discuss, in-depth, the mental illness affecting a person.
A Mission for Michael is dedicated to your mental health. Our therapists specialize in mental health and help create individual treatment plans for all our clients. Getting help is only the first step.
Maintaining positive mental health and fostering a solid support system is a life-long endeavor. We are here every step of the way. Reach out for more information.