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Gabapentin For Anxiety Disorders: An Off-Label Treatment

Gabapentin is a drug that was approved by the FDA in 1993 as an adjunct treatment for epileptic seizures.  It has since attained approval for the treatment of partial seizures in adults and children.  In addition to its mechanism as an antiepileptic drug, Gabapentin functions as an analgesic, and was approved in 2004 for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Despite its approved uses as an antiepileptic and analgesic, it is commonly prescribed off-label for a variety of conditions.  In fact, some sources hypothesize that nearly 90% of Gabapentin prescriptions are off-label.  In 2004, Pfizer (manufacturer of Gabapentin) settled for $430 million in a lawsuit regarding aggressive marketing of the drug for off-label purposes.

Regardless of the settlement outcome, Gabapentin (brand name “Neurontin”) is still commonly prescribed for a variety of off-label conditions including: fibromyalgia, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, alcohol withdrawal, and migraine headaches.  Perhaps one of the more promising off-label uses for Gabapentin is for the treatment of anxiety disorders.  There is mounting evidence that Gabapentin may be an effective intervention for various types of anxiety including: generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

Gabapentin for Anxiety Disorders: The Research

There is considerable research documenting the efficacy and safety of Gabapentin for anxiety disorders.  Research and interest in Gabapentin began in the 1990s for anxiety disorders due to its unique GABAergic mechanism of action.  Nearly every published study has found Gabapentin to be superior in efficacy for the reduction of anxiety when compared to a placebo.

1999: Gabapentin has been researched since the 1990s for its effect as an anxiolytic agent.  A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was conducted to determine the safety and efficacy of Gabapentin among individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.  A total of 69 participants were divided into two groups: one received Gabapentin (900 mg to 3600 mg daily) and the other received a placebo.

The study was conducted over a period of 14 weeks.  Researchers noted that social anxiety levels plummeted among those taking the Gabapentin compared to the placebo.  Social anxiety levels were interpreted by physician evaluations and patient rating scales.  Side effects were more prevalent among those receiving the Gabapentin compared to the placebo – including dizziness, dry mouth, and nausea.

Authors of the study suggest that based on the limited data, Gabapentin has a favorable risk-benefit ratio for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.  Even in the 1990s, there was notable evidence to suggest that Gabapentin may be a favorable intervention for anxiety – particularly social subtypes.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10440462

2002: In one study analyzing the efficacy of Gabapentin as an adjunct treatment for bipolar disorder, it was discovered that improvements were most notable on anxiety-somatization measures of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D).  Results of the study suggest that those with bipolar disorder who attained the most benefit from Gabapentin had either comorbid panic disorders and/or a history of alcohol abuse.

This highlights the fact that Gabapentin may provide most relief to individuals with bipolar disorder that have comorbid anxiety.  In addition to acting as an anxiolytic agent, Gabapentin may also improve mood via antidepressant mechanisms. The dosage of Gabapentin administered in this study ranged from 600 mg to 2400 mg.

It is difficult to draw generalized conclusions from the results of this study, but the outcome indicates that Gabapentin may be effective among individuals with panic disorder.  Though the drug hasn’t been tested specifically for the treatment of panic disorder, additional research may be warranted.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12454558

2003: Many people experience significant anxiety during public speaking.  For this reason, researchers decided to test the effect of Gabapentin on anxiety triggered by public speaking tasks.  A total of 32 men between the ages of 17 and 30 participated in the study.

Researchers used a simulated public speaking (SPS) task to evaluate both level of anxiety and mood of the participants.  The Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS) and Profile of Mood State (POMS) were self-evaluated during the simulated public speaking (SPS) task.  Secondary recordings of physiological arousal were documented in the form of heart rate and blood pressure.

Participants took either 400 mg Gabapentin or 800 mg Gabapentin.  Researchers noted that those taking 800 mg experienced significant reductions on the VAMS scale.  Individuals taking Gabapentin at both 400 mg and 800 mg experienced significant reductions in hostility ratings as measured by the POMS scale.

Results from this study provide additional evidence to support the anxiolytic effects of Gabapentin.  Those prone to anxiety associated with public speaking tend to experience notable reductions when taking Gabapentin.  The reduction in anxiety associated with public speaking may also have carryover effects for individuals with anxiety in social situations.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12870565

2005: Due to the fact that Gabapentin has both analgesic and anxiolytic properties, researchers hypothesized that administration of Gabapentin prior to a surgical procedure would reduce anxiety and provide post-surgery pain relief.  To test their hypothesis, they recruited 40 patients scheduled for arthroscopic knee surgery. Of these 40 patients, they were randomly assigned to receive  Gabapentin (1200 mg) or a placebo.

The administration of either Gabapentin or the placebo occurred approximately 2 hours before surgery.  Results suggested that anxiety scores prior to operation (preoperative anxiety) were significantly lower among those administered Gabapentin compared to the placebo group.  Furthermore, those receiving Gabapentin required less post-surgical morphine than the placebo group.

Authors concluded that administration of Gabapentin can mitigate preoperative anxiety and provide postoperative pain relief.  This highlights the fact that Gabapentin may be an optimal drug for the reduction of both anxiety and pain associated with knee surgery.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15845693

2008: Another study conducted analyzed the effects of Gabapentin, morphine, and diazepam on a rodent model of HIV.  Researchers conducted this study due to the fact that neuropathy is commonly associated with anti-retroviral therapy.  In addition, anti-retroviral therapy is thought to potentially trigger anxiety-like behavior.

To get a better understanding of how various pharmaceutical agents affect neuropathic pain and comorbid anxiety-like behavior, they tested: 30 mg/kg Gabapentin and 2.5 mg/kg morphine compared to diazepam 1 mg/kg.  The effect of Gabapentin and morphine wasn’t significantly different from diazepam.  All interventions significantly reduced anxiety-like behavior in HIV model rodents.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2706951/

2009: From 2005 to 2007, researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School decided to test the efficacy of Gabapentin and Tiagabine for the treatment of social anxiety.  Researchers decided it would be beneficial to document the safety and efficacy due to the fact that many patients with social anxiety don’t respond well to traditional treatment options (e.g. SSRIs).  Gabapentin functions different than SSRIs in that it elicits GABAergic effects as opposed to serotonergic.

To test the efficacy of Gabapentin and Tiagabine for the treatment of social anxiety disorder, researchers recruited 8 adult participants (21 to 39 years old).  All participants had been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder in accordance to DSM-IV criteria and had scores exceeding 30 on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS).  The study was considered double-blind and randomized.

At the beginning of the study, participants were assigned to receive Gabapentin (1800 mg) or Tiabagine (2400 mg).  All participants were titrated up to the aforementioned doses over a period of 2 weeks.  At various 2-week intervals, anxiety levels were assessed among the patients with the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS).

Results suggested that both Gabapentin and Tiagabine significantly reduced social anxiety according to the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale measures.  Two of the subjects achieved complete remission and four reported substantial reductions in anxiety.  Side effects associated with either treatment were considered minimal.

Although this was a very small-scale study, it provides additional evidence highlighting the efficacy of Gabapentin for social anxiety.  Researchers also noted that both Gabapentin and Tiagabine may have favorable side effect profiles over traditional first-line options like SSRIs and benzodiazepines.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2708011/

2012: To better understand the effects of Gabapentin on anxiety, amnesia, and sedation – researchers set up a randomized, placebo-controlled study.  They hypothesized that administration of Gabapentin (1200 mg) prior to surgery (2 to 3 hours) would reduce preoperative anxiety.  Their secondary hypothesis was that administration of Gabapentin would yield sedation, without memory impairment.

A total of 64 surgical patients were included in the study, 32 of whom were assigned to receive Gabapentin (1200 mg) and the other 32 of whom were given a placebo.  Measures of anxiety, sedation, and amnesia were measured prior to medication, 2 hours after administration, and following their surgery.  These were collected with the following respective scales: Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Visual Analogue Scale Anxiety (VAS), and Snodgrass and Vanderwart.

The results of the study suggested significant reductions in anxiety among those receiving Gabapentin compared to the placebo – specifically on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.  No differences were reported between those receiving Gabapentin and those receiving a placebo in terms of sedation and memory.  Authors concluded that Gabapentin at 1200 mg can significantly reduce anxiety without impairing memory and/or causing significant sedation.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22770920

2012: A publication from 2012 acknowledged that Gabapentin is commonly used as an off-label treatment for anxiety disorders.  However, they noted that there wasn’t sufficient clinical evidence to support the off-label usage of Gabapentin for anxiety.  To get a better idea of Gabapentin’s efficacy in terms of treating anxiety, researchers set up a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

This trial was conducted with 420 breast cancer patients that had completed chemotherapy.  The group of 420 participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups that received: 300 mg Gabapentin, 900 mg Gabapentin, or a placebo.  Prior to the study, their anxiety (“trait” and “state”) were measured via the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (SSTAI).

Measures of both “state” and “trait” anxiety were collected after 4 weeks of treatment, and after 8 weeks of treatment.  Results of the study suggested that those receiving Gabapentin, regardless of whether the dosage was 300 mg or 900 mg, had significantly reduced “state” anxiety scores compared to the placebo group.  This significant reduction in “state” anxiety was noted after 4 weeks and maintained throughout 8 weeks.

Researchers did note that those receiving the 300 mg (lower dose) had better treatment outcomes for most participants, except among individuals with high baseline levels of anxiety.  Authors of this study concluded that Gabapentin may be considered an effective alternative therapeutic agent to traditional benzodiazepines for the treatment of anxiety among breast cancer survivors.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23053645

2013: A study published in 2013 compared the efficacy of Gabapentin and melatonin on measures of: anxiety, pain, sedation, and surgeon satisfaction following cataract surgery.  A total of 130 individuals were included in the study and ranged from 35 to 85 years of age.  All had planned on receiving cataract surgery, and researchers assigned the patients to receive either: Gabapentin (600 mg), Melatonin (6 mg), or a placebo.

These were administered approximately 90 minutes before the patient was relocated to the operating room.  Upon administration, ratings of anxiety, pain, and sedation were recorded – as was the surgeon’s satisfaction with the surgery.  Results indicated significantly reduced levels of anxiety among those receiving the Gabapentin (600 mg) or the Melatonin (6 mg) compared to the placebo.

Upon comparison of Gabapentin (600 mg) to the Melatonin (6 mg) – there was no significant difference in anxiety reduction.  Gabapentin was also found superior to the other two options in reducing pain scores.  Both Gabapentin and Melatonin were superior to the placebo in strength of sedation.  There was no difference between the three groups in terms of surgical satisfaction as reported by the surgeon.

Researchers highlighted the fact that the anxiolytic effects of both Gabapentin and Melatonin were significant when compared to a placebo.  This provides some evidence to suggest that Gabapentin may be an effective off-label anxiolytic option, especially among those scheduled for surgery.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24347765

2013: By 2010, Gabapentin had become a fairly popular off-label treatment for anxiety disorders.  Despite some evidence suggesting its efficacy for anxiety, there was inconclusive evidence in regards to Gabapentin’s effect for the reduction of preoperative anxiety.  The preoperative subtype of anxiety is associated with feeling uneasiness and dread prior to a surgical operation.

To get a better understanding of whether Gabapentin was effective for preoperative anxiety, researchers compared Gabapentin (1200 mg) to that of a placebo among individuals with moderate or high levels of preoperative anxiety.  The study was carried out from 2009 to 2011 at a hospital with 50 female patients; 25 were assigned to the Gabapentin and the other 25 were assigned to receive the placebo.

Anxiety levels were recorded at baseline using various scales including: Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (SSTAI), the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale (PASS), and the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS).  Approximately 2 hours following administration of either Gabapentin (1200 mg) or the placebo, patients rated their anxiety, pain, and sedation.  The new ratings were then recorded and compared to those attained at the baseline.

Results demonstrated that the 25 patients receiving Gabapentin (1200 mg) experienced significant reductions in preoperative anxiety, pain, and catastrophizing compared to the placebo.  Individuals receiving Gabapentin reported higher levels of sedation than the placebo.  Authors concluded that Gabapentin could be an effective pharmaceutical intervention for individuals with high levels of preoperative anxiety and/or catastrophizing.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23377862

Is there any evidence to suggest Gabapentin is ineffective for anxiety?

Due to the fact that Gabapentin hasn’t been extensively studied specifically for the treatment of anxiety, it is difficult to suggest that it is highly-effective.  That said, most studies analyzing the anxiolytic properties of Gabapentin have noted that they are significant when compared to a placebo.  The majority of research analyzing Gabapentin’s effect on anxiety is unfocused (in terms of anxiety-subtypes) and small-scale.

2010: Of all the published research available, there appears to be one study that found Gabapentin ineffective for reducing preoperative anxiety among individuals scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure.  In this case, the surgical procedure was that of a total hip arthroplasty or replacement of the hip joint with an artificial prosthesis.

In the study, 22 patients received Gabapentin (600 mg) and the remaining 48 received a placebo.  Both were administered approximately 2 hours before pre-surgical anesthesia.  Anxiety was measured at baseline, prior to surgery, and post-surgery using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).  Results indicated that anxiety scores weren’t significantly different between those receiving Gabapentin and those receiving the placebo.

Researchers concluded that 600 mg of Gabapentin is ineffective for reducing preoperative anxiety.  This study is contradictory to the findings of other studies that have found Gabapentin effective for reducing preoperative anxiety.  However, most other studies utilize other measurements for anxiety  (in addition to the Visual Analogue Scale) and have utilized varying dosages of Gabapentin.

Significant contradictory evidence is apparent in a 2012 study of 130 adults undergoing surgery.  In the newer study (with a larger sample size), Gabapentin was effective at the same dosage of 600 mg in reducing preoperative anxiety.  Perhaps this study was too small-scale, limited in terms of anxiety measurement scales, and/or maybe the type of surgical procedure influenced the outcomes.  In any regard, this study is an outlier in terms of its finding that Gabapentin failed to reduce anxiety.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20353411

How Gabapentin May Help Anxiety (Mechanism of Action)

The mechanism by which Gabapentin elicits an anxiolytic effect is not fully understood.  It is considered structurally similar to the neurotransmitter GABA.  The neurotransmitter GABA is known to produce a calming effect and relieve anxiety; this effect is apparent among those who use benzodiazepines and other drugs that target GABA.  By comparison, Gabapentin does not actually bind to GABA receptors.

GABA synthesis

Instead, Gabapentin is thought to regulate glutamate decarboxylase and branched chain aminotransferase.  Both glutamate decarboxylase and branched chain aminotransferase are enzymes aiding in the synthesis of GABA.  Research suggests that Gabapentin is capable of increasing synthesis of GABA, which may explain its anxiolytic properties.

Among individuals with psychiatric conditions and comorbid anxiety, alcohol dependence, and/or insomnia, Gabapentin has been suggested to provide relief as a result of anxiolytic properties.  These anxiolytic effects have been noted as similar in respect to diazepam (Valium), a popular benzodiazepine.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9686247
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9561320

Advantages of Using Gabapentin for Anxiety

There may be some advantages associated with using Gabapentin for anxiety over other medications.  The most notable advantage is that Gabapentin has a different mechanism of action compared to standard first-line treatments of anxiety such as serotonergic antidepressants.

  • Adjunct treatment: Gabapentin may be helpful for some individuals as an adjunct treatment. It is commonly used as an adjunct anticonvulsant and may be an effective adjunct to an antidepressant for the treatment of anxiety.  Further investigation is warranted, but due to its unique mechanism of action, it may have synergistic effects when used with other meds.
  • Alternative mechanism of action: Let’s face it, not everyone responds to traditional anxiolytic interventions for the treatment of anxiety. Traditional interventions include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.  Those that don’t respond well to first-line treatments in terms of symptomatic reduction and tolerability may want to consider Gabapentin.  Gabapentin is thought to function by increasing GABA synthesis by regulating enzymes.
  • Anxiety reduction: Most studies suggest that Gabapentin is an effective treatment for anxiety. Although it hasn’t been formally approved by the FDA, nearly every study analyzing its anxiolytic effect has found some degree of benefit.  In addition, it appears to be effective in treating a variety of different anxiety subtypes.
  • Comorbid neuropathic pain: Those with anxiety and comorbid neuropathic pain (or vice-versa) may benefit significantly from Gabapentin. It is clinically approved and considered effective for various types of neuropathic pain, and preliminary evidence suggests that it reduces anxiety.  Therefore individuals with anxiety and comorbid neuropathic pain may derive significant benefit from Gabapentin.
  • Potential mood boost: There is some evidence to suggest that some people feel less depressed when they take Gabapentin. Although its mechanism of action isn’t well-understood, it may boost mood among those with depression or depressive features.
  • Side effects: The side effect profile is considered minimal and may be favorable compared to other anxiolytic medications. Common side effects associated with Gabapentin include: dizziness, coordination problems, eye movements, and tremors.  Due to the fact that no weight gain or significant sexual dysfunction is reported – Gabapentin may be preferred over SSRIs.
  • Weight neutral: It appears as though Gabapentin is a “weight neutral” drug in that weight gain or loss is uncommon for the majority of users. While weight fluctuations may occur in some individuals, most users will maintain a baseline weight throughout treatment.

Disadvantages of Using Gabapentin for Anxiety

There are also some notable disadvantages associated with using Gabapentin for the treatment of anxiety.  The most obvious disadvantage is that there aren’t enough large-scale, targeted studies to suggest Gabapentin is an effective anxiolytic.

  • Children / adolescents: Most research of Gabapentin for anxiety has been conducted in adult populations. This means that the drug may not provide the same degree of efficacy among children and adolescents.  There may also be a risk associated with the GABAergic mechanisms affecting developing brains of those under the age of 25.
  • Limited evidence: There is certainly some evidence to suggest Gabapentin may provide relief from symptoms of anxiety. However, this evidence is limited to relatively small sample sizes.  There have not been any long-term, thorough clinical trials analyzing the effect of Gabapentin for specific types of anxiety.
  • Long-term effects: The long-term effects associated with Gabapentin are unknown. Despite claims that the drug may be safe when used over a long-term, users should be skeptical of potential permanent memory impairment and/or cognitive impairment as a result of GABAergic effects.  Drugs like benzodiazepines are linked to dementia, and Gabapentin is thought to act similarly to Diazepam (Valium).
  • Off-label: It is estimated that approximately 9/10 prescriptions for Gabapentin are “off-label” or for conditions that the drug isn’t approved to treat. Off-label prescriptions have a reduce chance of actually working for the treatment of anxiety.  This also means that Gabapentin will be tougher to get a prescription for if you solely have anxiety.
  • Questionable efficacy: Due to the lack of focused research specifically analyzing Gabapentin’s effect for the treatment of anxiety, its efficacy should be considered questionable. It cannot be universally recommended until more extensive research is conducted with larger sample sizes over a longer duration.
  • Unapproved: The FDA has not approved Gabapentin for the treatment of anxiety. Currently the drug is approved for the treatment of epilepsy (as an adjunct) and neuropathic pain.  Any usage other than the two approved conditions may not provide relief.
  • Withdrawal: Most medical professionals consider Gabapentin withdrawal symptoms to be relatively minor or nonexistent. Little do they know that the discontinuation effects can be debilitating and protracted – lasting for a long-term.  The withdrawal should not be taken lightly, some people claim that discontinuation of Gabapentin is as severe as nearly any other neurochemistry-altering drug.

Optimal Usage of Gabapentin for Anxiety: Who is most likely to benefit?

Certain individuals may get more benefit out of using Gabapentin for their anxiety than others.  Not everyone with anxiety is going to find Gabapentin  therapeutic; many individuals report experiencing no significant change in their level of anxiety as a result of treatment.

  • Anxiety subtypes: Certain anxiety subtypes may react better to Gabapentin than others. Particularly cases of anxiety that are caused or influenced by neuropathic pain may respond better to Gabapentin.  Additionally, anxious subtypes stemming from GABAergic dysfunction may stand to benefit more from this drug since it regulates GABA synthesis.
  • Depression: While Gabapentin is not an antidepressant, there is subtle evidence suggesting that it may improve mood. It may be especially helpful at stabilizing mood as an adjunct when prescribed for bipolar disorder.  Some studies suggest that the mood-boosting effect derived from Gabapentin for bipolar depression is a result of treating anxiety and altering GABAergic neurotransmission.
  • Drug withdrawal: In select cases, this drug may be prescribed to help combat anxiety and other symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal. Many of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal result from dysfunction in GABAergic neurotransmission.  Some speculate that temporary usage of Gabapentin can ease difficult discontinuation from other drugs.
  • Epilepsy: Those with epileptic seizures may get prescribed Gabapentin as an adjunct treatment. Should an individual with epilepsy also suffer from anxiety, they may find that this drug provides them with some additional relief – helping them stay calm.
  • Hot flashes: Another fairly common off-label condition that may benefit from Gabapentin is that of hot flashes. Hot flashes are sometimes associated with excess stress and anxiety.  Many anecdotal reports have suggested that Gabapentin is effective for the reduction of hot flashes.
  • Migraines: The drug has had off-label success as a prescription to target migraine headaches. While it isn’t approved to reduce headaches, many anecdotal reports suggest that it is an effective option.  Those with migraines and anxiety or anxiety so bad that migraines ensue, Gabapentin may provide some relief.
  • Neuropathic pain: The drug is approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain, and if you have been diagnosed with this condition, it may be prescribed as a first-line treatment. As an added benefit, you may find that it’s also helping to reduce your anxiety.  Think of the anxiety reduction as an added benefit of the drug.
  • Poor response to first-line treatments: Individuals with refractory cases of anxiety that don’t respond to first-line treatments like antidepressants may end up trying Gabapentin. Due to the fact that it has a mechanism of action that differs from most treatments means that there’s a chance it may provide some relief in a way that another drug cannot.
  • Surgery: Those getting surgery may benefit from Gabapentin as a pre-surgical treatment to help decrease preoperative anxiety and reduce post-surgical pain. There is mounting evidence to substantiate claims that Gabapentin is an effective drug to be used on a short-term basis for patients getting surgery.

Have you used Gabapentin for anxiety?

If you have personal experience using Gabapentin, did you notice a significant reduction in anxiety while taking it?  Did you specifically take Gabapentin with the intention of treating anxiety or did you take it for an approved condition such as epileptic seizures and/or neuropathic pain?  Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.

To help others get an accurate understanding of your Gabapentin usage, be sure to document the dosage that you took, how long you’ve been taking it, and whether you experience a sustained anxiolytic effect.  Understand that the efficacy may be subject to individual variation as well as specific subtype of anxiety (e.g. social, generalized, preoperative, etc.).

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{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Deb A August 7, 2015, 6:26 pm

    I have been taking Gabapentin for two weeks for anxiety relief. I am on 300mg twice a day. As a side note, I am also depressed and taking Zoloft for that. Gabapentin definitely gets rid of my anxiety, but the first three days I was excessively sleepy and sometimes even felt stoned. On the fourth day I felt AMAZING! Gabapentin not only removed my anxiety but it lifted my mood considerably and I felt like the real me! It was incredible to go from completely depressed to totally fine in a matter of one hour. I hope I continue to get this result in the coming weeks, but I realize it might not last. :(

    One last observation… The generic brands vary greatly. I was on the Camber brand for the first week – it is the one I spoke of above. The second week I tried the Aurobindo brand and it has had absolutely no effect on me. I am going back to Camber next week, and I will use that from now on.

    • Karen September 13, 2016, 5:35 pm

      Are you still taking Gabapentin? My dr wants me to start taking this medication. I have chronic depression (dysthymia) and anxiety.

  • Danielle B August 14, 2015, 8:46 pm

    I’ve been taking gabapentin for anxiety for about 3 months and am very ambivalent about getting off of it. I originally was on lorazapam, but I was irresponsible and began taking an extra here and there, thus running a few days short. I was on 5 mg/day, which I didn’t realize was so high, and when I did run out, I had 2 seizures. Because of this I requested to stay away from all benzos as they are addicting and I just wanted to avoid that mess altogether.

    When my Dr put my on gabapentin, I assumed it was safer. But now I feel not only is as equally (if not more-so) dangerous, but it has some pretty crappy side effects. Before I begin, I will say this: it has helped with my anxiety/depression (haven’t cried for no reason since shortly after beginning treatment, and there have been a few life situations that I handled much better than I would normally) which is why I would like to remain on it. HOWEVER, I once again was on a high dose (2400 to 3000 mg/day “as needed for anxiety/insomnia”) and noticed that, since starting it 3 months ago I’ve gone from a size 2 jean to a size 10.

    (Cannot tell you lbs as I do not have a scale and am actually afraid to know the real amount). I never thought of myself as someone that really cared about my appearance, but I do feel pretty damn crummy. There have been other unfortunate side effects to the weight gain itself ($ for new clothes, sudden appearance of varicose veins) so about a month ago I decided I wanted to get off of it altogether. After reading up on it, I’ve learned that gabapentin a very similar compound to benzos (and not to take my Dr.s word for anything). I wanted to stay away from benzos b/c I didn’t want anything I could abuse or suffer withdrawal from and ended up making a huge mistake switching to gabapentin.

    I was unaware of the dosage issue, or any of the side effects (including memory and cognition. I can’t remember anything and I often lose words/thoughts mid-sentence). I’ve become so discouraged over these side effects that, though it has been incredibly helpful, for both sleep and anxiety, I’ve decided I want to taper off of them. This is where I get very frustrated. Due to a medication interaction (Zoloft and Wellbutrin) I had a 3rd seizure in June, 3 days after starting Zoloft (and was taking all of my meds exactly as they were prescribed).

    I had no idea how scary seizures can be, especially as, previous to the Ativan withdrawal (for which I was prescribed Librium), I had never had one in my life! So you can image how scared I am now to come off this too quickly. I figure, at least now I can recognize when I am starting to feel like I’m withdrawing, and will take another 300 mg to avoid another seizure. In the meantime however, I continue to gain weight, and my cognitive issues are as bad as I can remember (of course, considering as I’m now suffering from “CRS”, I guess not remembering is all relative).

    Over the past month I have gotten down to 1400 mg/day (and my Dr. is aware/has approved tapering), however, I’ve had trouble dropping any lower without the onset of withdrawal symptoms. In addition, there is nothing like Librium that can be taken for these withdrawals (studies have proven Ativan etc. to be ineffective). I began Ativan in November, Gabapentin in May, and since November I feel like I’ve become a guinea pig and greatly over medicated (I am actually on 5 additional psych meds. I’ve never been on more than 3 my entire life, and to have that doubled -hell 7 scripts with the Zoloft- really upsets me).

    The icing is, when I’ve confronted my doc on these issues, requesting a transfer, he reported that his supervisor denied it b/c “any doctor would’ve handled my case exactly the same way.” There have also been crazy insurance issues, but that’s whole different story. I’m currently in the process of switching to a completely different facility, and my husband has even pushed for a malpractice suit. I’m of course not pursuing this, but I can image that 3 seizures, 2 of which he witnessed, being a hell of a motivator for seeking a lawsuit.

    I don’t usually post to sites (first time actually) but some of what I read above about Dr. opinions really angers me. The claim that side effects are uncommon, and that it is weight neutral, I’ll argue that one in court myself! But the very high number of withdrawal cases/reports is what really upsets me. Please be aware of phrases such as “little do they know” (withdrawal) and “unknown” (long term effects). I really appreciate how forthright and unbiased the above article is, I just feel very passionate about the matter at this point.

    Previous to my seizure in June, I intentionally avoided reading up on meds to prevent any psychosomatic side effects, and regret that. I also would really like to think that I am not a meladramtic person. This is only my experience, but I hope this post (albeit longwinded) may be helpful to someone considering the drug, or to let those who have had a bad experience know that they are not alone. Lastly, my husband always says “quote your sources” so, in addition to my personal experience (an the article above), the following may be illuminating:


    I’m sure there are many more out there, I’d be happy to post more if people are curious (and while most out there are based on case studies, the sheer number of articles warning about gabapentin is staggering).

    • Aleks September 17, 2016, 1:43 pm

      I just started Gabapentin a few days ago. I’m on a very low dose only 900 mg a day. I also take Vyvanse 70mg, Adderall IR 30mg for my ADD / ADHD and Xanax 2mg for sleep / 2mg as needed, and Kolonopin 2mg for anxiety to balance out the uppers. I refuse to take SSRI, SNRI, and antidepressants because they usually cause weight gain / don’t help.

      The chance that you will experience weight gain from Gabapentin is actually very low; less than 1% of people experience this side effect. I assume the weight gain is caused by one of the other medications you’re taking. I also lose my train of thought mid sentence and speak somewhat slow but this has been an issue for awhile I assume it’s from the amphetamines or my anxiety I take which I’ve been on for 5+ years.

      I also had a similar experience with a Dr. that tried to push medications on me. You have to switch and tell the Dr. exactly what you need since you’re already diagnosed and you can tell what medications work for you better than they can; it’s your body after all. If they offer something new research whatever they offer on your phone while in session prior to making your decision. Also if your Psychiatrist isn’t being cooperative drop them and find someone else they’re all over.

      When I was 15 I got in trouble for a marijuana possession so the Dr. the IOP sent me to would only prescribe Vyvanse and try to push SSRI / SNRI / Antidepressants on me to treat my anxiety because of my drug history. Hope this helps. So far I haven’t experienced any adverse effects from the Gabapentin yet though since I just started it. (My first post on here as well).

  • Peter September 15, 2015, 2:39 pm

    I have just started to take Gabapentin 2x a day 300 mg for anxiety/ panic disorder. I currently take zoloft 100mg. My doctor says my heart rate is very high and my blood pressure was high from anxiety. I have been on zoloft for close to 10 yrs it helps with depression but anxiety/panic attacks is still very bad. I don’t like diazepam but I take one if my anxiety is uncontrollable. My doc told me this drug is non habit forming. And from what I’m reading that’s not true.

    Anyway last night I took one 300mg capsule and within 1 hr my heart rate dropped to 57-60 bpm. And I took another one this morning and still my heart is 57 -60 bpm. That’s a far cry from 85 bpm I usually have. Now I have to out way the risk to reward. If it saves my anxiety/panic disorder and lowers my heart rate and blood pressure I will take it. Jury is still out. I also have a job that I do some public speaking, so I will see how this works. I will keep you posted…

  • m.j. October 8, 2015, 11:26 pm

    I have been taking gabapentin for about 8-9 months. It completely eliminated the postpartum anxiety I was experiencing after the dark, abysmal depression I experienced when I was pregnant. My labor experience was very, very excruciating (had to be put on oxygen due to the several hour long panic attack, almost had to have an emergency C-section and they used those tong things to pull her out, very painful) and I consider it to be the most traumatic experience of my life-I would go as far as considering my anxiety to be comparable to that of PTSD.

    I asked my family practitioner for gabapentin specifically after taking about 400 milligrams that my “baby daddy” offered me at our apartment one evening. I had also taken one of my twice daily IR 30’s of Adderall and had a beer over the course of the two hours it took for the gabapentin to kick in. I noticed a calm, serene pleasant energy washing over me very gradually. I liked that it took the two hours to kick in, I liked that I felt like myself and still felt alert and attentive with my baby.

    I started at 300 mg twice a day, I think. Eventually we titrated up to 2400 mg a day,half being taken at night time so I could go to sleep when I needed to instead of wasting hours of frustration trying to fall asleep. Due to life circumstance’s, I became depressed again (looking back, this was manic depression) and relied heavily on my gabapentin for its feelings of well-being.

    All in all, it was extremely helpful and got me through until I was able to face my new life and all of its changes. I chose it over the recommended Zoloft from my doctor, and I think this was lucky due to my undiagnosed bipolar. In my opinion, it is likely better for acute anxiety caused by life-changing events that one cannot adjust to successfully. I am seeing a psyche doctor now, and I have titrated down quickly to the point of almost cold turkey with gabapentin and I have found myself much more engaging and happy doing activities or jut hanging out with my daughter and my family.

    I did have severe hot flashes and restless nights that are slowly getting better after a week, as well as strange, persistent itchiness both on my skin and from what felt like inside my body somehow? That’s subsided greatly. Vitamin b complex definitely got me through rebound anxiety. It is an amazing drug, caused me no side effects with an exception of reduced morality (baby daddy calls it “f*ckitol”) and significant memory impairment when taken with Adderall (doctors appointments or remembering to call someone or do something important).

    Best sleep I’ve ever had in my life when taking it at night two hours before bed. after taking a break and seeing if I can do better with falling asleep on my own, I may return to a large dose (900-1200) for restful sleep. It is the only option I would consider for that purpose because it is very easy to wake up on (I have a baby to wake up with at night) and very easy to go back to sleep on once she is back out. Never missed a whine or whimper from her in the next room with 1200mg of gaba-that is something amazing in my opinion.

  • robert December 4, 2015, 6:03 am

    I’ve only been taking gabapentin 300 mg twice a day for anxiety for four days now, but I’m amazed at its efficacy. I used to take one quarter mg of clonazepam a day to combat the retching, tremors, and fear that I experience every morning due to a protracted life altering event. I find that the gabapentin works at least as well, just not as long, as the clonazepam.

    It seems to enhance my mood, it helps me remain clear thinking and focused on managing my situation, without the crippling fear that I have everyday if I’m not taking anything. I’m also taking 30 mg of duloxetine once a day which helps with my depression, without weight gain. It didn’t do much for my anxiety however. I never knew that gabapentin could be used for anxiety.

    I like the fact that a non controlled drug can give me the same relief from my daily dread and terror without the stigma of being on a controlled drug like clonazepam. I’m just glad that I found medications that can help me function successfully and allow me to provide for my family and enjoy life a little, instead of living a that miserable existence with panic attacks, fear, anger, tremors, and weight loss, where I felt like my life was nothing more than day after day just waiting to die.

    In a nutshell, so far, a good experience with gabapentin 300 mg twice a day.

    • Lynn April 3, 2016, 4:44 am

      Are you doing better?

  • Corie December 7, 2015, 5:41 pm

    I have been taking Gabapentin for 3 months as an adjunct treatment to my antidepressant (100 mg Zoloft) for fast acting treatment for panic attacks and social anxiety. I only take it as needed and I have definitely noticed a difference in the levels of my anxiety. As someone with GAD, I have found that while the Gabapentin doesn’t take away the stress of my anxiety, it makes it so that I can still function. Instead of having a panic attack when my anxiety flares up, I can take Gabapentin, calm down, and move on with my day as a person under normal stress would.

  • Seann December 24, 2015, 5:38 am

    I was proscribed Gabapentin after landing in the ER with extreme anxiety and panic due to a number of stress factors – the loss of both parents within 63 days of each other, financial instability, living in a new city with a limited support system, and other stress. After taking only 2 pills (300mg), I have not had a panic attack and felt significant decrease in anxiety, as well as increased mood and restful sleep. I’m pleasantly surprised.

  • Karen January 2, 2016, 8:17 pm

    I started taking gabapentin 300mg 2 -3 times a day for the treatment of nerve pain associated with shingles. After taking it for 10 days I noticed my moods were better and my hot flashes from menopause have been alleviated. I’m no longer on HRT patches. I also was taking 1.5 mg of Xanax daily. I’m now taking half of that & eventually get of of them. I have not felt this good in over 15 years. Who knew having shingles would help so much with my anxiety, panic attacks & depression.

    • Karen June 23, 2016, 7:33 pm

      Are you still taking Gabapentin and if so what dosage are you taking? My doctor wants me to start taking it for anxiety.

      • Karen July 18, 2016, 9:40 pm

        I’m taking 500 mg per day. 200 mg in am & 300 mg in pm. I tirated down because of a rash on my back. It is under control at this dosage for me. Still not taking HRT…no hot flashes.

  • Charlie January 20, 2016, 5:30 am

    My 100+ pound solid black German Shepherd became very aggressive when he turned 1 years old. Gabapentin twice a day has worked wonders in keeping him controllable. He is still very protective and has a hair-trigger temperament but the gabapentin helps a lot giving him a little more time to process things and not overreact as quickly. It helps greatly in making him less dangerous around others. I was researching gabapentin in canines when I came upon this link. It has worked great in my boy. ;)

  • john February 28, 2016, 5:27 am

    I have used gabapentin for anxiety and panic attacks. For me it works about as good as a benzo, and I don’t black out on high doses. I also notice an increase in my mood for the better. I am on 800mgs 3x a day. I REALLY WISH THIS DRUG WOULD HAVE A FAIR TRIAL FOR ANXIETY!

    • Anne September 20, 2016, 11:06 am

      John You nailed it with that comment Gabapentin really needs a fair trial for ANXIETY!!! I had a PTSD for 11 years massive anxiety and severe migraines and this was a wonder drug for me it got me off every other drug and gave me my life back. They need to really look at this drug for other uses like ANXIETY AND SEVERE PAIN AND SLEEP DISORDERS AND PTSD because it works for many people not all but many. Hope you’re still going well. I’m in OZ.

  • Mark March 3, 2016, 11:16 pm

    Gabapentin works great for me.

  • Catherine March 15, 2016, 2:57 pm

    I have been using Gabapentin for over a year. At first I only used it with Cymbalta and a mood stabilizer. For almost a month now, I’ve only been take the Gabapentin for my anxiety. I take about 4-6 100mg capsules a day or every other day depending on my mood. When I feel stressed out, like I’m going to start freaking out or crying or raging, I pop a pill or pills as needed. And within 15-20mins, I feel better. They don’t get you high or anything, and I don’t feel loopy.

    They can make you tired when you first start taking them, but that’s it. They just help me to feel normal. And when I’m on my period and during PMDD, they make me feel normal. Gabapentin makes me feel like a regular person. And I don’t have to take it everyday. If I forgot, I don’t go through withdrawal or anything like with anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. Also, I don’t crave alcohol like I did when I was on Cymbalta. This drug is kind of a lifesaver.

  • Marvi April 2, 2016, 5:15 am

    I have been taking Gabapentin for almost a year now. It was prescribed for Anxiety NOS and panic attacks. My dose is 100 mg four times a day. This medication has been miraculous. I have had social anxiety all of my life, and for the first time in my life I no longer have any social anxiety at all. It has also helped rid me of panic attacks. I take Gabapentin along with Wellbutrin and Mirtazapine (which I take for depression).

  • Zoe April 12, 2016, 10:27 pm

    I was prescribed Gabapentin for nerve pain associated with shingles (like Karen who commented above). I have numerous mental disorders including high anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, depression, borderline personality, mild bipolar, and am 5 years sober with a previous addiction to alcohol and marijuana. When I tried to wean off, I realized that it had been helping, not only the neuropathic pain, but also my anxiety and depression.

    I was on a couple SSRI’s at the same time. But Gabapentin helps the production of GABA, which is different from SSRIs that affect the levels of serotonin in the brain. I don’t want to stop taking it. My quality of life, especially my peace of mind, has increased with the use of 200mg 3x per day. I have been on it for 6 months now and I don’t have any side effects from it at all. But just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.

  • Ken May 10, 2016, 8:21 am

    Pfizer acquired Neurontin brand through Parke-Davis. They then brand their own generic Gabapentin through Greenstone. Everyone’s metabolism is different. A generic mtf may work for one but not another person. However, Pharmacy and pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money so they purchase the cheapest generic on the market through wholesale distribution most likely in Canada.

    Here is a very serious problem the size of the generic may be 3 times as big as the brand! It could also be a tablet not a capsule form. Why is that? The generics are not the same as brand. They have different formularies, diff binders and fillers, lacquers. They may not be bio-equivalent, bio-available or pharmacokinetics within the 85-125 rule.

    There are so many manufacturing being built in India and China, the FDA does not have the require inspectors to test for purity so it is playing Russian roulette every time you get a generic. Different dangerous side effects, may not even work. This is why you get a different generic every time you get a refill. Always ask for the same generic if it works for you. Many recalls on drugs caused of purity issues. Solco seems to work.

  • whocares May 14, 2016, 7:09 pm

    I was in the middle of severe withdrawal symptoms from Xanax when I was given Gabapentin 400mg 4 times per day and Baclofen 20mg twice per day and the combo has been very effective. I changed Drs because I wanted more Xanax, it was impossible to detox from 1.5 mg per day to zero in 90 days. I got down to 1mg but couldn’t go any lower because I feared for my life. Seriously.

    However, once starting this combo, almost 3 weeks ago, I have totally stopped Xanax and I think I only drank twice. Both times, I think I forgot my pills the night before. Prior to starting, I was craving alcohol every single day and drinking 3-4 times per week in addition to 1mg of Xanax. So this combo has been sort of a miracle for me.

    I still filled my last Xanax script (.5mg for 14 days or something) despite no current need or desire for it. And, I filled my Ambien script also despite no need or desire for Ambien. (I was given Ambien to help with the withdrawals but while it put me to sleep, it didn’t help at all with the withdrawals). I’m not sure what the Dr has in mind for long term. He gave me scripts for 90 days worth of Baclofen and 180 days of Gabapentin.

    He said to come back in 2-3 weeks but I don’t really see any need to. So I am currently planning to wait until I run out or low on Baclofen. I can’t tell how much the gabapentin is helping but when I miss a baclofen, I notice it. The combo causes me to fall asleep every night sometimes before I plan to or can even take my pills. And it causes some dizziness and blurred vision.

    But overall, I am thrilled for the withdrawals to stop. I had figured it would take me a year and a half to wean off Xanax without becoming an alcoholic in the process. So when the Dr refused to give me any more Xanax, I was skeptical, but the proof is in the pudding. I am wondering why the first Dr didn’t give me this to begin with because I went thru 90 days of hell.

  • Emma Goldman May 20, 2016, 5:05 am

    I was prescribed Gabapentin for a very painful frozen shoulder & rotator cuff injury. While I was on it, I noticed that my anxiety noticeably mellowed (dosage was 400 mg 3x/day). At the time, I thought I was less anxious because I was getting pain relief, but eventually I realized that the anxiety relief was a separate thing.

    I have PTSD so anxiety is an ongoing issue for me. After my shoulder got good enough to transition off the gaba, I occasionally would take a 100 mg dose to help with anxiety without thinking too much of it. Now, my sleep doctor is pushing me to go on Prozac to help with my chronic insomnia and anxiety. Well, I am going to try going back on the Gaba first.

    From all I hear about the SSRI’s, Gaba is the lesser of 2 evils if it does the job. One other thing to add – like another poster above me said: beware of which generic they give you. Once while I was on the Gaba, I started feeling so awful – dizzy, horrible, etc. Then I realized it all started within 24 hours of my getting my Gaba refill with a different manufacturer.

    God only knows what filler they put into that capsule or what the lowest bidder did to produce it… when I went back & demanded my old manufacturer of Gaba, the side effects immediately stopped! Good luck to all.

    • dave brent May 24, 2016, 10:29 pm

      What specific brand caused all those problems for you? And what was the good brand you switched to?

  • Andy May 24, 2016, 3:36 pm

    I have had anxiety and panic attack issues for 30 years. Zoloft (sertraline) has helped me a lot, but I still have some GAD issues. I developed neuropathy pain in my feet, and was prescribed Gabapentin for that. I noticed that I slept better, and was generally calmer, and suspected that it was because of the Gabapentin, so I did some research, and ended up here. Looks like I was correct!

  • Karen June 23, 2016, 7:37 pm

    Wondering if anyone has taken Gabapentin by itself as a mood stabilizer? Any opinions appreciated.

    • Mindy July 9, 2016, 4:03 pm

      I was prescribed gabapentin for prevention of migraines. I also have generalized anxiety and depression. I was taking medication for that separately, but I tried so many with negative side effects. So I stopped taking them (SSRI). I have found that taking gabapentin 300mg 3 times day works better for my mood issues than any SSRI I have taken. It calms me down quickly.

  • Rebecca July 6, 2016, 2:43 am

    I have been taking Gabapentin for almost 3 years now. I started it when I was struggling with PTSD, and it was a lifesaver. Everything else I tried either made it worse or didn’t do anything. Gabapentin helped me calm down and boosted my mood enough for me to function again. I also have Social Anxiety Disorder, and I notice a HUGE increase in symptoms if I don’t take the Gabapentin. I take 300 mg 4x/day. I also take Wellbutrin (for anxiety/ADHD), Lexapro (anxiety), Adderall and Vyvanse (ADHD). Another huge benefit is that I have chronic neck pain, and the Gabapentin helps with that, too!

  • Carlos July 26, 2016, 7:24 pm

    Hello, I just started taking gaba 300mg yesterday and I’m very nervous about taking it thinking the side effects are going to make me even more nervous. Has anyone gone through this or Can anyone out there help me feel more secure in knowing this medicine can help with my anxiety?

  • Vic August 21, 2016, 11:33 pm

    Has anyone had any experience with taking gabapentin for anxiety in conjunction with Wellbutrin, Concerta and Pristiq?

  • Anne September 20, 2016, 10:55 am

    I was prescribed Gabapentin initially at 300mg 3 x daily for severe migraines after a severe PTSD from too many years as a police officer I had been on multiple antidepressants for 11 years and morphine based drugs for migraines. The Gabapentin worked for me however I found that the dose was not strong enough and had to be increased to 600 mg then to 900 mg but it did react with my antidepressants so I stopped all of them the Seroquel, Avanza and Diazepam and now I am only on the Gabapentin.

    I found the other antidepressants caused me to put on weight and I have lost 28 kilos since being on the Gabapentin and have never felt better. I am sleeping again and am not aware of the nightmares. I have my life back after 11 years and it’s wonderful. I couldn’t be happier. I would have to give that drug a big thumbs up as now it’s all I’m on and apart from the weight loss I have had no side effects.

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