Alprazolam for anxiety disorders

Alprazolam is primarily used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. However, taking the active ingredient only treats the symptoms and not the cause of the symptoms. Since alprazolam can sometimes have significant side effects, the active ingredient should only be used when it is absolutely necessary. Find out more about the effects, side effects and dosage of alprazolam here.

Effect of Alprazolam

Alprazolam belongs to the benzodiazepine group, which also includes active ingredients such as diazepam,  lorazepam  and  tetrazepam  . It influences certain messenger substances in the brain and thus has a calming, anxiolytic and relaxing effect. Alprazolam is therefore used for the short-term therapy of anxiety and panic disorders. Due to its side effects, the drug should only be used if the symptoms severely affect the life of the person affected. 

Alprazolam is also sometimes used as a supplement in the treatment of  depression  . Here, however, the active ingredient is controversial: With a short treatment period, it has proven to be effective in some cases, but with longer use there is a risk that the depressive symptoms will increase. Alprazolam should therefore never be used as the sole treatment for depression. 

Alprazolam side effects

A number of side effects can occur while taking alprazolam. The most common complaints include  lightheadedness , drowsiness, and dizziness. In addition, fatigue, confusion, reduced alertness, muscle weakness, unsteadiness in movement and gait, headaches, visual disturbances and  tremors  can also occur. These symptoms occur primarily at the beginning of treatment with alprazolam. 

Furthermore, side effects such as menstrual disorders, liver dysfunction, loss of appetite, coordination disorders, nauseaconstipation , hyperprolactinaemia, blurred vision, skin reactions and a change in libido  can also be triggered by taking  it.

Aggression, nightmares, hallucinations, irritability and restlessness can also occur in children or the elderly. If such symptoms occur, the doctor treating you should be consulted and treatment with alprazolam should be stopped. For a full list of all Alprazolam side effects, please refer to the package insert that came with your medication. 

risk of dependency

Just like the other active ingredients from the group of benzodiazepines, alprazolam can also cause both physical and psychological dependence after a short period of ingestion. The risk of becoming dependent is greater the longer the intake lasts and the higher the dosage of the active ingredient. People who have already been dependent on alcohol, drugs or pills have a particularly high risk. 

If there is a dependency,  abrupt discontinuation  of the active ingredient can lead to side effects such as anxiety, restlessness, irritability, headaches and muscle pain. In extreme cases, more serious disorders such as loss of reality and personality or hypersensitivity reactions to light, noise or physical contact can also occur. 

In addition to the symptoms mentioned, the so-called rebound phenomenon can also occur after stopping this benzodiazepine. The symptoms that led to the treatment with alprazolam appear intensified for a short time. Side effects such as anxiety, restlessness and mood swings are possible during this time. To avoid the rebound phenomenon, the drug should not be discontinued abruptly, but slowly and gradually. 

Intake no longer than 12 weeks

The duration of intake and the exact dosage of alprazolam depend on the disease and its severity as well as the individual reaction to the active substance. In general, the dose and the duration of use should always be kept as low as possible in order to minimize the risk of dependence. 

In general, it is recommended that the active ingredient, including the taper-off phase, is not used for longer than twelve weeks at a time. During this time, the doctor treating you should keep checking to see whether treatment is still necessary. When stopping, the dose must be slowly reduced step by step to prevent the occurrence of side effects. 

Alprazolam dosage

Alprazolam tablets are usually available in doses of 0.25, 0.5 or 1 milligram. The exact dosage should always be determined by the attending physician. Initially, 0.25 to 0.5 grams of alprazolam three times a day is often prescribed. If necessary, the dose can be increased up to 3 milligrams per day. In general, the tablets should be taken whole with plenty of liquid. 

After taking benzodiazepines, there may be memory lapses for the period immediately after use. For this reason, care should be taken to ensure that the patient sleeps for a sufficiently long period after ingestion.

Alprazolam overdose

If you take too much alprazolam, you should contact a doctor or go to the emergency room at your nearest hospital straight away. Typical symptoms of overdose are drowsiness, drowsiness, confusion and lethargy. A significant overdose can also lead to a drop in blood pressure, muscle relaxation and impaired respiratory function. In the worst case, the central nervous system depression can be so strong that the affected person falls into a coma or even dies. 

Contraindications

Alprazolam must not be used if there is hypersensitivity to the active substance or to another benzodiazepine. In addition, alprazolam must not be taken in the case of certain diseases. These include the following:

Likewise, the active ingredient must not be used in people who are manic depressive or suffer from an endogenous depression or depression with psychotic features. Alprazolam is also contraindicated if you have a history of dependence on alcohol, drugs or medication. The same applies if there is acute poisoning with alcohol, tranquilizers,  sleeping pills  or painkillers. 

If you suffer from certain pre-existing conditions, you should consult your doctor before taking. This is appropriate, for example, if you have kidney problems or breathing problems. In such a case, the dose must probably be chosen a little lower. 

pregnancy and breast feeding period

Alprazolam must not be used during pregnancy. Women who intend to become pregnant should also not take the drug. If the active ingredient has to be used anyway, a negative effect on the unborn child must be expected. Possible consequences can be poor drinking, respiratory failure, hypothermia and  low blood pressure  . Since alprazolam passes into breast milk, it should also not be used during breastfeeding.

interactions

Interactions with a number of other medications can occur while taking alprazolam. For example,  the depressant effect on the central nervous system can be increased if antidepressants , antiepileptics,  antihistamines , anxiolytics, analgesics, narcotics or neuroleptics are taken at the same time. 

In addition, interactions can also occur with the following active ingredients:

  • antifungal agents such as ketoconazole or itraconazole
  • Hormone-containing contraceptives such as the birth control pill
  • Antibiotics
  • Drugs used to treat  HIV
  • Blood pressure lowering drugs
  • The muscle relaxant
  • Cimetidine

Under no circumstances should you take the active substance together with alcohol, as otherwise the effect of the benzodiazepine can be altered.

 

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