Is Gabapentin Used for Anxiety? | Anxiety & Substance Abuse Treatment

Gabapentin is a psychoactive medication that helps address many different types of psychological and physical disorders. Gabapentin can help address nervous system disorders, cure nerve pain, and can help to reduce seizures in children and adults. Gabapentin is also known as Neurontin. Gabapentin can also help with panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and impulse control disorders. It is a versatile substance that can help address many nervous system disorders. Is Gabapentin used for anxiety disorder in everyone? We’re taking a closer look at this particular pharmaceutical and its rise in treating different ailments. 

Recent studies of Gabapentin continue to show some benefit in treating anxiety disorders. Many anxiety disorders are caused by overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and under-stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Gabapentin utilizes these two pathways in the central nervous system to help reduce the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are quite difficult to treat and using both medications and psychotherapy may provide the best possible outcomes for mild to severe anxiety.

Gabapentin For Anxiety

What are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are a common mental health disorder throughout the world, but appear to be even more prominent in industrialized countries such as the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 19% of adults and 31% of adolescents suffer from clinical anxiety each year. 

Anxiety is a common sensation for all humans but can be debilitating for certain individuals. It is complex and is used to describe an array of behaviors, feelings, and sensations. In order to help address anxiety, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition created a category of disorders known as Anxiety Disorders. These disorders are similar and tend to be treated likewise. These disorders can cause irrational thoughts, avoidance, depression, paranoia, and isolation. In a fast-paced life, anxiety symptoms may have a drastic impact on the overall quality of life.

Common Anxiety Disorders include:

  •     Panic Disorder
  •     Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  •     Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  •     Phobias
  •     Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What Non-Medication Therapies Treat Anxiety?

Using both medication and counseling techniques often yields the best possible outcome for treating anxiety disorders, however not all patients want to treat their anxiety with medication. Other formats of treatment for anxiety disorders include intensive and regular outpatient therapies. Common therapy techniques designed to address anxiety disorders include:

  •     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  •     Exposure Therapy
  •     Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  •     Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  •     Art Therapy
  •     Psychotherapy

What Medication Therapies Treat Anxiety?

Using medication treatments to address anxiety is highly recommended for moderate to severe levels of anxiety. Severe anxiety may be so difficult that it will hinder the ability of a person to learn the skills and processes that are necessary to treat anxiety through psychotherapy alone. Using medication can help to lower the anxiety enough to increase the motivation to engage in outpatient or intensive psychotherapy. Common anxiety medications include:

  •     Xanax
  •     Librium
  •     Klonopin
  •     Valium
  •     Atavan

However, with all prescription medications, the potential for abuse is high. More specifically, there are numerous dangers of anti-anxiety medications that should be carefully considered, regardless of the prescription. It’s critical that medical supervision is provided with the intention of continuing therapy for managing symptoms of anxiety. Medication can be used in tandem with counseling or by itself. Best outcomes occur when medication and counseling services are utilized to treat co-occurring disorders like substance abuse and mental illness. 

Taking Gabapentin For Anxiety

Is Gabapentin Used for Anxiety in All Cases?

Gabapentin is currently an option a doctor may use for medication management when treating anxiety. Gabapentin is a relatively new medication for anxiety and is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat anxiety disorder, however, a doctor may still prescribe the medication to anxiety should they feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

Common risks for gabapentin include increasing thoughts of suicide. These thoughts of suicide are closely monitored and it is recommended to participate in psychotherapy while using Gabapentin. Gabapentin appears to work particularly well with addressing the anxiety that occurs from alcohol withdrawal. In fact, the chair of the American Psychiatric Association Council on addiction says “non-pain related conditions like anxiety and alcohol withdrawal can benefit from gabapentin” although there may still be side effects from using the medication.

Common side effects of Gabapentin when used to treat anxiety include:

  •     Drowsiness
  •     Fatigue
  •     Fever
  •     Memory loss

Gabapentin can be helpful but should be used with caution as Gabapentin may have contraindications with other active medications prescribed. Using opiates, benzodiazepines, and other painkillers may cause severe drowsiness and slow the nervous system to dangerous levels. 

Is Using Gabapentin Worth It?

Using Gabapentin may help address anxiety, however, it is critical to involve a primary care provider or another trained health professional to monitor the effects of Gabapentin on the body.

Using Gabapentin alone is not recommended as the potential for abusing the drug is high. Gabapentin is commonly abused as it can provide a powerful euphoric feeling and can relieve psychological and physical pain. Those dealing with chronic pain are at a particularly higher risk for developing a drug abuse disorder with Gabapentin as it can provide immediate relief. Using gabapentin without a proper monitor can lead to severe short-term and long-term effects on the body. According to Medical News Today, common short-term and long-term effects include:

  •     Blurred vision
  •     Cold-like symptoms
  •     Hallucinations and delusions
  •     Memory loss
  •     Loss of muscle control
  •     Swelling in hand and feet
  •     Shakiness
  •     Unsteady gait
  •     Psychological and Physical Dependence

Using gabapentin is risky, but can be used to treat anxiety under the correct circumstances.

AspenRidge is able to offer treatment methods that are safe and effective. AspenRidge is able to provide both medications and counseling treatments and will help address individual needs on a case-by-case basis. AspenRidge offers safe therapies for anxiety treatment such as:

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • EMDR

plus many more. It’s important to note that pill habits alone can produce harmful and pervasive effects. Consumers of prescription medications like Gabapentin face growing risks of adverse health issues, especially those who use prescription drugs in combination with other drugs or to self-medicate due to underlying mental health concerns. 

Is Gabapentin Used For Anxiety

AspenRidge Recovery: Treating Substance Abuse & Anxiety

Gabapentin is generally a safe medication when monitored and controlled with proper medical supervision, rendering the possibility of addiction or dependency somewhat rare.

​AspenRidge Recovery can help address many different consequences and problems that may arise from using Gabapentin to treat anxiety. Our certified, licensed treatment specialists can help provide or establish a clear plan for long-term recovery from alcohol. Our Colorado addiction programs support individuals at every stage of addiction recovery. Through our continuum of care, our addiction specialists can address addiction as well as underlying mental health concerns. For more information on our programs contact us at 855-281-5588.