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Psychiatry & Medication

Buspirone for Anxiety

 May 11, 2020

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line

  • Buspirone is a serotonin receptor antagonist.
  • It is not considered a first-line medication to treat anxiety symptoms, that’s why it may be prescribed alongside other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Buspirone is an FDA-approved medication for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
  • Available only as a generic in oral tablet form.
  • It is not linked to dependence.

What is Buspirone? 

Buspirone is a medication used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). By origin, it is a serotonin receptor antagonist. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain which then develop an anti-anxiety effect. Alternative use of this medication is linked to alleviating irritability, promoting healthy sleep and a clear mind. 

Buspirone for anxiety is available only in a generic form. The branded version Buspar is discontinued for manufacturing. Today, it is not considered a first-line medication to treat anxiety symptoms, that’s why it may be prescribed alongside other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It can be used in situations when no other anti-anxiety medication responds or causes many side effects.

It is available in oral tablets of 5, 10, 15, 30 mg strengths. The active ingredient is buspirone hydrochloride alongside inactive ingredients colloidal silicon dioxide, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate. The tablet in 30 mg strength contains iron oxide.

Buspiron’s mechanism of action is not clearly outlined. Anxiety medication Buspirone does not provide anticonvulsant effects as benzodiazepines. It has no sedative effect like other anxiolytics. It is believed to affect dopamine and serotonin. This effect on these chemicals may explain the anti-anxiety benefit.

Always speak to your doctor about taking Buspirone for anxiety, as it may not be suitable for you.

Can Buspirone be taken for anxiety?

Buspirone is occasionally prescribed for short-term GAD treatment and relieving anxiety symptoms. Anxiety caused by daily stress is not an indication for use of Buspirone. There is no known evidence about the efficacy of this anxiolytic in long term treatment for anxiety. 

Is Buspirone FDA approved for anxiety?

Buspirone was first approved under the brand name of BuSpar to treat anxiety disorder, in particular, GAD, in 1986 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Starting from 2001, when the patent expired, it has become available in a generic form only.

What research supports Buspirone for anxiety?

Does Buspirone work for anxiety? Extensive evidence about its efficacy for anxiety exists.

  • Buspirone dosage for anxiety was studied alongside placeboes for GAD treatment. 520 patients have reported improvements in symptoms of GAD with Buspirone over the placebo. However, the research showed its significant efficacy only with regularly taking the medication. 
  • Buspirone anxiety was researched on safety for GAD treatment. Over 600 patients have been treated with Buspirone for anxiety for 6 months up to 1 year. One year treatment has reported no new and no previously found side effects that occurred in short-term treatment. Most patients received 15-30 mg doses daily. When therapy was discontinued, there were no withdrawal symptoms. Even though it is not recommended for long term treatment, the research proved its safety and efficacy. 
  • Buspirone’s anti-anxiety effects were studied against the placebo in patients with GAD. 121 patients have completed treatment for 6 weeks. The study reported significant improvements for anxiety and depressive symptoms treatment with mild side effects. 

What do experts say about Buspirone for anxiety?

Elias Aboujaoude, MD, clinical professor and chief of the anxiety disorders section at Stanford University School of Medicine says “Buspirone has occupied its own niche in the treatment options we have for anxiety because it does not have the addiction potential of other popular antianxiety medications — namely, the benzodiazepines — which gives it an advantage in the treatment of anxiety in certain patients.”

What are the possible side effects?

Buspirone is not a controlled substance. Its intake may be associated with the following common side effects:

  • dizziness;
  • nausea;
  • headache;
  • excitement.

The withdrawal symptoms are:

  • dizziness;
  • insomnia;
  • drowsiness;
  • Fatigue;
  • anxiety.

Can Buspirone cause anxiety? Yes, it may come as a withdrawal symptom.

Rare overdose events were reported during clinical trials. The symptoms of overdose included nausea, vomiting, dizziness. In both human and animal studies, there were no reported events of abuse or dependence. If you believe you overdosed, seek emergency help immediately (call 911).

Does Buspirone have interactions with other medications?

Certain medications should not be used alongside Buspirone for anxiety due to the risk of experiencing side effects or altering the effects of the medication.

The potential interactions of Buspirone with the following medications:

  • Fluoxetine;
  • Verapamil;
  • Gabapentin;
  • Trazodone;
  • Clomipramine;
  • Doxepin;
  • Rifampin;
  • St John’s Wort.

The following interactions are contraindicated:

  • Isocarboxide;
  • Phenelzine;
  • Tranylcypromine.

Abstain from grapefruit juice consumption. It is believed to increase the plasma concentrations of medication.

Avoid interactions with alcohol. It may increase the risk of drowsiness and lightheadedness. 

Always consult your doctor about taking other medications alongside Buspirone for anxiety.

Can you take Buspirone while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

In animal studies, no fertility abnormalities or fetus damage was reported. There is no known evidence about the application of Buspirone for anxiety in pregnant women. However, animal studies cannot be a guarantee for safety in human use, Buspirone should not be used during pregnancy.

While there is no support for the excretion of Buspirone in human milk, animal studies have shown that Buspirone was reported to excrete into the mother’s milk. Therefore, is not recommended for treatment while breastfeeding.

How to take Buspirone?

Buspirone for anxiety comes in oral tablets which can be cut in half to take 2-3 times per day as prescribed by a doctor.  The dosage is prescribed based on your health condition, age, and anxiety symptoms. 

Usually, the treatment starts with the initial dosages of 15mg daily. It can be increased gradually and should not be over 60mg daily. 

Patients should take Buspirone for anxiety at the same time every day. Take it with or without food. 

Are there alternatives to Buspirone?

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Buspirone for Anxiety 

Anxiety medication Buspirone is not the first-line medication used to treat anxiety disorder and its supporting symptoms. If you believe it may fit your health condition, please speak to your doctor. There are many other prescription medications which can be suitable for treatment of GAD:

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

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Buspirone, 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 Buspirone 

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Buspirone 

Learn more about different energy & holistic modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Buspirone

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

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