What is buspirone?
Buspirone is a prescription medication that is used to treat anxiety and as an add-on medication to an antidepressant to treat depression. It is a type of medication called an anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety medication.
Buspirone works by suppressing the neurons (nerves in the brain) that are stimulated by serotonin and boosting the activity of the neurons that are stimulated by dopamine and norepinephrine. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters (chemicals that send messages to your body via neurons) that can affect your mood, sleep, focus, motivation, and other factors that contribute to your overall well being. By adjusting the balance of these neurotransmitters in your brain, buspirone can help ease the different symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Buspirone used to also be available in the US under the brand name Buspar, but is now only available in its generic form—which you may also see referred to as buspirone hydrochloride (or buspirone HCL).
Buspirone is available in tablet form:
- 5 mg
- 7.5 mg
- 10 mg
- 15 mg
- 30 mg
A typical starting dose of buspirone is 7.5 mg, taken twice a day. If needed, your prescribing doctor, nurse practitioner, or Minded psychiatry provider may gradually increase your dose as needed, up to the maximum recommended dose of 60 mg. (While this is the maximum recommended daily dose, some people might need a higher dose to achieve relief from their symptoms.)
No matter what your dosage is, buspirone can be taken with or without food. However, it is recommended that you take it the same way every time.
If you accidentally miss your dose of buspirone medication, you will want to either: take the missed dose as soon as you remember—or, if it is closer to when you would take the next dose, just go ahead and take the next dose.
Buspirone side effects, warnings, and interactions
Buspirone side effects
Common side effects of buspirone include:
- Dizziness, drowsiness, and/or lightheadedness
Talk to your prescribing doctor, nurse practitioner, or Minded psychiatry provider if you experience these or any other new or worsening side effects.
Rare or serious side effects of buspirone include:
- Allergic reaction (symptoms include: hives; swelling of the face, lips, and/or tongue; trouble breathing)
- Confusion and/or blurred vision
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Numbness and/or tingling in the arms, feet, hands, or legs
- Uncontrollable movement (dyskinesia) of the arms, legs, lips, or tongue
- Extreme restlessness or the inability to sit still
Seek medical attention right away if you experience these (or any other) serious adverse effects.
Buspirone and pregnancy
If you are planning on becoming pregnant or breastfeeding, discuss your anxiety treatment plan with your prescribing doctor, nurse practitioner, or Minded psychiatry provider. Because adequate studies have not been conducted to determine whether buspirone may affect a baby during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, it is typically not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Buspirone withdrawal symptoms
If you need to stop taking buspirone for any reason, work with your healthcare professional to develop a plan to do so carefully and gradually to decrease your dose in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of buspirone withdrawal may include:
- Burning or tingling sensations
- Increased anxiety
- Muscle cramps
- Trouble sleeping
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
You should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit while you are taking buspirone. This is because grapefruits (and their juice) can prevent certain medications—including buspirone—from being metabolized by your body, leading to too much of the medication building up in your body.
Always let your prescribing doctor, nurse practitioner, or Minded psychiatry provider know about any other medications and/or supplements—including over-the-counter medications and supplements as well as prescription drugs—you are taking to determine if buspirone might have any negative drug interactions with them.
Buspirone drug interactions may include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs, or MAO inhibitors)—a type of antidepressant medication
- Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac)—used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain (angina)
- Erythromycin (E-Mycin, E.E.S., Ery-Tab, Eryc, others)—used to treat certain bacterial infections
- Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifampicin, others)—used to treat tuberculosis
- Verapamil (Calan, Covera-HS, Isoptin, Verelan)—used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain (angina)
Buspirone and alcohol
You should not drink alcohol while you are taking buspirone. Alcohol can interact with buspirone and increase dizziness or drowsiness caused by this medication. Drinking can also increase your risk of accidentally overdosing on buspirone (as well as other types of sleep and anti-anxiety medications) if it is taken with alcohol.
Symptoms of a buspirone overdose include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe drowsiness
- Upset stomach, including nausea and/or vomiting
- Very small pupils in your eyes