Xanax - Panic attacks treatment | Use
This article was medically reviewed by M.Pharm, Marko Tanaskovic on August 12, 2018. To read more about an author, click here.
Xanax is a medicine that contains active substance called alprazolam. It belongs to the group of benzodiazepines. It is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. It should not be used in the treatment of everyday stress.
Xanax should be avoided in the following conditions:
- In patients with glaucoma (increased eye pressure)
- In patients with breathing problems
- Patients with hepatic impairment
- In patients with myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular disease)
- During pregnancy
It should be avoided in combination with alcoholic beverages, due to an increased risk of side effects.
Long-term use of this medicine can lead to physical and psychological dependence!
Higher doses and long-term use increase your risk of addiction.
It should be used with extreme precautions in patients with epilepsy as well as in the patients who have had suicidal thoughts.
If dependence develop then stopping your medicine abruptly will result in withdrawal syndrome which is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- increased anxiety,
- heightened sensitivity to external stimuli (light, noise),
- headache and other symptoms. Therefore, the dose should be gradually reduced before stopping completely. This prevents withdrawal syndrome from occuring.
Insomnia may occur after you stop taking this medicine, which is why patients get the impression that "they cannot sleep without this medicine." Because of that, they often extend therapy on their own, which increases the risk of addiction. Keep in mind that insomnia that occur when you stop taking this medicine is only transitory effect that usually do not last longer than a few days. Do not never extend the treatment unless your doctor recommended.
Treatment should last no longer than two months, because the long-term use increases the risk of addiction!
The dose should be gradually reduced.
We'll give an example:
If you have been taking 0.5 mg of Xanax three times a day, the dose should first be reduced to 0.5 mg two times a day for three days, and then to 0.5 mg once a day for three days, and after that you can stop using this medicine completely.
Your doctor will explain you how to gradually reduce the dose.
Xanax can cause anterograde amnesia (you may not remember events you experienced while you were under the influence of this medicine). Therefore, it is recommended to take this medicine just before bedtime.
Xanax should be used with extreme precautions in patients who have had problems with addiction.
It should be avoided in patients under the age of 18.
When you are using Xanax, tolerance may occur (phenomenon that requires the patient to use more and more of this medicine in order to achieve the same effect). If you feel like the same dose of Xanax you have used before is not helping you anymore, contact your doctor.
Patients above the age of 65 are at increased risk of side effects, therefore the dose should be reduced.
Use of Xanax during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Xanax should be avoided during pregnancy, especially during the first three months of pregnancy!
It can be used only if the benefit to the mother outweighs the risk to the child.
This medicine can cause birth defects in the child! It should be not used during the last three months of pregnancy, because babies may develop a dependence on the medicine before they are even born. It may cause serious withdrawal symptomes right after birth: muscle disorders and breathing problems, which can be life-threatening!
This medicine passes into breast milk and may harm your baby! Avoid breastfeeding while using this medicine.
How to use
Usual initial dose is 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg once a day. The dose can be increased up to 0.5 mg three times a day, until the desired effect is achieved. The dose may be gradually increased, every three days. The maximum daily dose is 4 mg. Treatment should not last longer than 8 weeks.
Do not stop using this medicine abruptly. Your doctor will explain you how to gradually decrease the dose.
Use with other medicines (Interactions)
Xanax should be avoided in combination with the following medicines:
- Antibiotics, medicines used in the treatment of bacterial infections, such as:
- azithromycin, and others. These medicines increase the level of Xanax in the blood, increasing the risk of side effects.
- Medicines used in the treatment of fungal infections, such as:
- itraconazole, and others. These medicines may increase the level of Xanax in the blood, increasing the risk of side effects.
- Medicines used to treat depression.
- St. John's Wort. Concomitant use of this herb with Xanax, can decrease the level of Xanax in the blood, thereby reducing its effect.
It should be avoided in combination with alcoholic beverages, as it increases the risk of side effects!
Tell your doctor about all medications and herbal products you are taking.
Xanax may cause the following side effects:
- addiction (physical and psychological),
- anterograde amnesia (you may not remember events you experienced while you were under the influence of this medicine),
- elevated intraocular pressure,
- difficulty speaking,
- uncontrolled body movements,
- menstrual disorders,
- libido changes,
- allergy and others.
Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any side effects.
Information on this website are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.