Anxiety Medication Overview of Neurontin

Neurontin, generically known as gabapentin, is an anticonvulsant drug approved by the FDA to treat certain types of seizures in epileptics and to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia (residual pain after an attack of shingles). Because it is not FDA approved to treat anxiety, it cannot legally be marketed as a treatment; however, it is often prescribed off-label to treat anxiety disorders.

There have been several studies on the anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) potential of Neurontin. A 2003 study found that 800 mg of gabapentin (the generic of Neurontin) eased social anxiety symptoms in volunteers anticipating giving a speech.

An earlier study, in 1999, found that patients given 300 to 1200 mg of gabapentin three times per day saw a significant reduction in social phobia symptoms compared to those given a placebo. There is also numerous anecdotal information from people prescribed Neurontin for other conditions who reported a decrease in long-standing anxiety symptoms.

Evidence Not Conclusive

Despite the findings of several studies supporting the potential of Neurontin as a treatment for anxiety and the available anecdotal information, there is not yet enough evidence to determine conclusively that the drug is an effective treatment choice for anxiety disorders.

Possible side effects associated with Neurontin include weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, and swelling of hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs.

Photo: Max Pexel

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