Can gabapentin withdrawal cause rebound anxiety?

By

Author bio

Page last updated: 23/09/2022

In this blog post, we are going to answer the question, “Can gabapentin withdrawal cause rebound anxiety?”. Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog and is used for a number of conditions. 

However, this medicine is not so simple when it comes to stopping it. It may cause anxiety to rebound and this is what we are going to talk about in this blog. 

Can gabapentin withdrawal cause rebound anxiety?

Yes, gabapentin withdrawal can cause rebound anxiety. Several surveys have revealed that the discontinuation of this medication is not that easy and some people may have to restart it again in order to counteract some of the withdrawal symptoms. 

One study suggested that the use of mild anti-anxiety medication may help with the rebound anxiety, especially when anxiety gets too severe. This severity, however, is only experienced when you have been using gabapentin for a long time and at higher doses. 

Dependence with low doses and short-term use of gabapentin is not that common. However, one thing to bear in mind is that people react differently to medications and have different levels of medication dependence. Withdrawal symptoms other than anxiety relapse include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia or inability to sleep
  • Photosensitivity 
  • Pain 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Hypertension

These withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and usually begin to show up within 10 hours to 10 days after you stop using gabapentin. Dependence is not common with gabapentin, as stated earlier, and can depend on a lot of different factors. 

Experts believe that people who misuse gabapentin are more likely to suffer from terrible withdrawal symptoms as compared to the people who stick to their doctor’s recommended prescription and take their gabapentin properly. 

Several surveys have indicated that withdrawal symptoms are more commonly found in people who have been taking 400-800 mg for more than a month. Some experts believe that these withdrawal symptoms are similar to the symptoms caused by abrupt benzodiazepine withdrawal. 

This may be due to the fact that both of these meds act either on GABA or mimic its activity. Make sure you stick to your doctor’s recommended dose and take it carefully in order to prevent your body from being physically dependent on the medication. 

Can gabapentin withdrawal cause rebound anxiety?

What is the best way to stop using gabapentin?

The best way to stop using gabapentin is to taper the dose gradually. Abrupt withdrawal can lead to the symptoms which can become too hard to bear. Make sure you talk to your doctor and follow the taper schedule properly in order for safe withdrawal. 

What are the withdrawal recommendations given by Pfizer?

Pfizer, the company which manufactures gabapentin, advises to stop using this medication over a period of one week minimum. The exact schedule is determined according to the conditions of the patient and the duration of his or her treatment. 

The current dose of the drug also plays a major role. If someone is on higher doses, he or she will have to go for different tapered doses in order to achieve the lowest effective dose, after which the drug is discontinued. 

Age and underlying health conditions can also make a huge difference. If the condition for which gabapentin has been prescribed is not getting any better then the treatment should not be discontinued, unless you suffer from an allergic reaction or unusual side effects. 

Unnecessary withdrawal can lead to exacerbation of your condition. Age is a factor because the process of withdrawal should proceed slowly in  elderly patients who can be affected when the dose is reduced as their bodies are much more sensitive to the concentration of medications. 

If you are taking gabapentin and you wish to stop using it, ask your healthcare provider. Do not stop this medication on your own. If you have been misusing gabapentin and want to stop doing so, ask your healthcare provider. 

You can also get help from rehabilitation, where you can safely taper off gabapentin and learn new lifestyle changes to help you deal with your addictions. 

What is gabapentin and why is it used?

Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog. Gabapentin mimics the actions of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA works by inhibiting the excessive neuronal firing in the brain which reduces the frequency of epileptic seizures. 

Gabapentin is also used to reduce the intensity of neuropathic pain by inhibiting nociceptors (pain receptors). This medication is a prescription medication and should be taken only at doses determined by your healthcare professional. 

It is not recommended to start or stop using any medication, especially while you’re being on any medication that can affect your brain, with your doctor’s approval. The uses of gabapentin in detail include:

Convulsions 

Gabapentin is used for the prevention and treatment of partial seizures. It can also be used in children above 3 years of age and in elderly patients as well. It may not suit some people, but overall it is considered a very good medication in order to relieve some epileptic symptoms. 

Nerve pain associated with shingles

Shingles is associated with terrible nerve pain that can be controlled by gabapentin. It is caused by the chickenpox virus that can stay dormant in you for a long, long time. 

This virus remains inactivated, but becomes active either because of compromised immunity or excess stress. This is indeed a very painful condition and some experts have related this pain to the pain that is caused by an actual heart attack. 

Restless Leg syndrome 

Gabapentin can also be used for the treatment, prevention and management of Restless leg syndrome. It manages the excessive and involuntary movements associated with this condition by controlling the excessive neuronal activity in your brain. 

How to ensure the proper use of gabapentin? 

Immediately talk to your healthcare provider if you experience unusual side effects while taking gabapentin. Do not recommend this drug to someone else and use it as long as your doctor has advised. 

Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. It is extremely important to ensure safety of your meds during your pregnancy. Some meds can cross placenta and are capable of causing unwanted side effects in the growing fetus. 

Inform your doctor if you’re a breastfeeding mother. Gabapentin may be capable of passing into the breastmilk and may cause side effects in newborns. 

Do not stop gabapentin abruptly. If it’s time for you to stop this med, your doctor will simply recommend a taper schedule for you, which should be followed vigilantly if you wish to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. 

Make sure you use this medication or any other medication only when your doctor has advised it. Using medications which can affect your brain is not something ideal and should not be encouraged unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. 

Make sure you discuss everything in detail with your healthcare provider and ask if you’re at the best possible dose of gabapentin. Also inform your doctor if you’re taking any other medication. 

Drug interactions should be an important consideration before taking two or more medicines together. Yes, drugs in combination are often used to achieve better therapeutic response but this is not the case with every interaction. 

Some drugs are highly incompatible with one another. They often cancel out each other’s effects or antagonise them. Some drugs are so incompatible that they end up changing the entire chemical composition of one another. 

Some interfere with metabolism or bioavailability (the rate and extent at which the active drug moiety enters systemic circulation/blood). This can lead to drug accumulation in different parts of the body. 

It is always advised to inform your healthcare provider of any medicine you take before getting a new prescription. Your doctor will make sure not to prescribe any such drug which might interfere with those you are already taking. 

Conclusion

In this blog post, we have discussed rebound anxiety caused after gabapentin withdrawal. Several surveys have revealed that the discontinuation of this medication is not that easy and some people may have to restart it again in order to counteract some of the withdrawal symptoms. 

One study suggested that the use of mild anti-anxiety medication may help with the rebound anxiety, especially when anxiety gets too severe. This severity, however, is only experienced when you have been using gabapentin for a long time and at higher doses. 

Do not stop this medication on your own. If you have been misusing gabapentin and want to stop doing so, ask your healthcare provider. You can also get help from rehabilitation, where you can safely taper off gabapentin and learn new lifestyle changes to help you deal with your addictions. 

FAQs: gabapentin rebound anxiety

How often can you take gabapentin for anxiety?

It depends on the severity of your anxiety. If gabapentin is prescribed for anxiety, the starting dose must be somewhere between 200-500 mg, depending on your age and conditions. However, the dose can be further increased by your healthcare provider. 

Can gabapentin withdrawal cause panic attacks?

Gabapentin withdrawal may cause panic attacks. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia or inability to sleep
  • Photosensitivity 
  • Pain 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Hypertension

What happens to your body when you stop taking gabapentin?

Gabapentin is associated with withdrawal syndrome when you abruptly stop taking this medication. Experts believe that people who misuse gabapentin are more likely to suffer from terrible withdrawal symptoms as compared to the people who stick to their doctor’s recommended prescription and take their gabapentin properly. 

Several surveys have indicated that withdrawal symptoms are more commonly found in people who have been taking 400-800 mg for more than a month.

Can gabapentin make you crazy?

Gabapentin can cause some serious mood related side effects. These side effects can vary from person to person. It is impossible to predict how your body will react once it is exposed to this medication. Some people get away with mild side effects, while others suffer terribly. The muscle and joint pain in some people get so bad that it ends up affecting their normal life activities.

Is it difficult to get off gabapentin?

It can be difficult to get off gabapentin because it might produce dependence, especially in people who have been taking this medication for a long time now. It is advised to not stop this medication abruptly. Sudden withdrawal can lead to the relapse of epileptic seizures and you can also suffer from tremors and other psychological symptoms. 

Can you take gabapentin forever?

The duration of your treatment with gabapentin depends on the severity of your condition and how well you can tolerate this medication. Some people can not stand the long-term treatment because of the disturbing side effects, whereas others can function really well with this medication and they can use it for years.

References

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?