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Psychiatry & Medication

Buspar for Anxiety

 May 11, 2020

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line

  • Buspar is an azapirone medication that mimics the action of serotonin antagonists.
  • FDA-approved to treat anxiety symptoms.
  • Available in oral tablets, and suggested as an alternative to other medications or in combination for short-term treatment only.

What is Buspar?

Buspar is a medication from the azaspirodecanedione (azapirone) class. It is prescribed to treat anxiety, in particular, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and its accompanying symptoms of fear, irritability, or tension. A doctor may occasionally prescribe it for short-term treatment, as its long-term application has not been found efficient. Buspar is no longer manufactured in the U.S., leaving its generic formula Buspirone in short supply on the pharmaceutical market.

Buspar is supplied in oral tablets of 5,10, 15,30 mg strengths. The active ingredient is buspirone hydrochloride alongside inactive agents of colloidal silicon dioxide, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, and iron oxide (in 30mg tablets only).

Buspar is not the first-line medication in anxiety treatment. Typically, it works best in combination with other antianxiety medications, or as a substitute if previous approaches are not responding to treatment or cause health issues.

Can Buspar be taken for Anxiety? 

Buspar is prescribed to treat anxiety and its accompanying symptoms. In particular, it has been found responding only to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) treatment. As a representative of the azapirone class which includes antidepressants and anxiolytics, Buspar is believed to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain. When the levels of serotonin and dopamine are balanced, a person can start feeling relief and sedation. Its effect can be felt in 2-4 weeks. 

Is Buspar FDA approved for anxiety?

In 1986, Buspar was approved for anxiety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2001, the patent has expired, and it has been discontinued from manufacturing. Today, its generic formula Buspirone is still available for sale.

What research supports Buspar for anxiety?

  • Buspar was studied on efficacy in anxiety treatment by reviewers. Data from studies with over 1,000 anxious subjects has been gathered and demonstrated that Buspar responds best to treatment at 20mg doses. Its use was linked to fewer side effects concerning impairment of cognition, and motor performance. And, it was found safer than benzodiazepines.
  • Buspar was studied as an alternative treatment for anxiety in subjects with a history of substance abuse and risk of bleeding due to hematological health conditions. A 50-year-old woman with anxiety, social phobia, alcohol abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder was administered Buspar 10-30mg daily for 6 months. The results have demonstrated that Buspar was a safe medication in patients with a risk of bleeding, beneficial over benzodiazepines in terms of addiction, and efficient in moderating anxiety symptoms.
  • Buspar was studied against Sertraline on efficacy in elderly patients with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). 46 subjects were administered Buspar 10-25mg and Sertraline 50-100mg daily for 2 months. Both medications have demonstrated anxiolytic effects, with Buspar superior already in 2 weeks of time. Their intake has not been linked to adverse effects.

What do experts say about Buspar for anxiety? 

James W. Murrough, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says “It occupies a special place in psychopharmacology because of its unique nature. It’s a very important piece of what we can offer patients who have anxiety.”

What are the possible side effects? 

Buspar has been rarely linked to side effects during the clinical trials, however, as it mimics the action of serotonin antagonists, its use may cause health issues.

Buspar for anxiety side effects:

  • dizziness;
  • nausea;
  • headache;
  • confusion;
  • fever;
  • skin rash.

Withdrawal symptoms:

  • dizziness;
  • insomnia;
  • drowsiness;
  • lightheadedness;
  • Fatigue.

The overdose events have been reported with Buspar at high doses of 375mg or in combination with other medications and alcohol. No fatal outcomes have been found when it was administered alone.

There is no support or evidence about abuse or dependence on this medication, still, prescription and caution are required.

Does Buspar have interactions with other medications? 

Buspar may interact with certain medications. Always do speak about safe and dangerous interactions with your doctor. Also, inform him if you are already on treatment with medications, herbs, and health supplements.

Buspar for anxiety may interact with:

  • MAO inhibitors;
  • Psychotropics;
  • Diazepam;
  • CYP3A4 inhibitors;
  • Amitriptyline;
  • Fluoxetine;
  • Gabapentin;
  • Doxepin.

Abstain from alcohol and grapefruit juice consumptions, as they may alter the effect of Buspar, cause drowsiness, and increase its plasma concentrations. 

Buspar for anxiety may affect your judgment ability and alertness, abstain from driving a car or operating heavy machinery until you know how Buspar works for your particular case.

Can you take Buspar while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

In animal studies, Buspar for anxiety has not been linked to malformations and abnormalities in the fetus. There is a lack of evidence and research about its effect on pregnant women, however, it is still not recommended for use.

Buspar for anxiety has been excreted into rats’ milk in animal studies. It is not recommended for use in nursing mothers.

Can children take Buspar for anxiety? 

It is not recommended to prescribe Buspar for anxiety to children under 18, as there is no clinical proof of its efficacy and safety.

How to take Buspar?

The dosage is only prescribed based on your age, health condition, and anxiety symptoms. 

The initial dosing regimen is 15mg daily. The tablets can be cut in half. If the treatment shows no response to symptoms or general well-being, a doctor may increase the dosage gradually. However, it should not be over 60mg per day.

Do not exceed the dosage if you feel no effect, it takes up to 4 weeks to experience relief. Take it as directed with or without food. Make a habit of taking the medication at the same time every day. If you skip a dose, take it as soon as you remember and address this concern with your doctor. 

Are there alternatives to Buspar?

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Buspar for Anxiety

Buspar is no longer manufactured. Buspirone, a generic version is available but in short supply. Speak to your doctor about all the other possible prescription medications that can fit your particular case. Some of them are:

  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Xanax
  • Inderal
  • Cymbalta
  • Tofranil
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Buspar, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Buspar 

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Buspar

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Buspar

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety  here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

Natalie Kirilova


Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience

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