- Tips to Fast Stress Relief
- Take the Panic Attacks Quiz!
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Slideshow
- What is Xanax, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What are the uses for Xanax?
- What are the side effects of Xanax?
- What is the dosage for Xanax, and how do I take it?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with medication?
- Is alprazolam safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about this medication?
What is Xanax, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Alprazolam (Xanax XR, Niravam), is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family, the same family that includes diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane), and others. Alprazolam and other benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other) that inhibits activity in the brain. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may cause anxiety or other psychiatric disorders. The FDA approved alprazolam in October 1981.
What are the uses for Xanax?
Xanax is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Anxiety disorders are characterized by:
- Unrealistic worry and apprehension
- Symptoms of restlessness
- Shortness of breath
- Smothering sensation
- Cold clammy hands
- Exaggerated startle responses
- Problems concentrating
Panic attacks occur either unexpectedly or in certain situations (for example, driving), and can require higher dosages of Xanax.
What are the side effects of Xanax?
The most common side effects of Xanax taken at lower doses are:
Other side effects include:
Addiction is more likely to occur at high doses given over prolonged periods of time. Abrupt discontinuation of alprazolam after prolonged use can lead to symptoms of withdrawal such as:
Seizures can occur in more severe cases of withdrawal. Consequently, patients on alprazolam for extended periods of time should slowly taper the medication under a doctor's supervision rather than abruptly stopping the medication.
What is the dosage for Xanax, and how do I take it?
- The starting dose for treating anxiety is 0.25-0.5 mg 3 to 4 times daily using immediate release tablets. The dose may be increased every 3-4 days to a maximum dose of 4 mg daily.
- The starting dose for treating panic attacks is 0.5 mg 3 times daily. Doses can be increased every 3-4 days but by no more than 1 mg daily.
- The effective dose for preventing panic attacks may be as high as 10 mg daily for some patients. The starting dose when using extended release tablets to treat panic disorder is 0.5 mg once daily and the average dose is 3-6 mg once daily.
- Alprazolam may be taken with or without food.
Which drugs or supplements interact with medication?
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), nefazodone (Serzone), cimetidine (Tagamet), and fluvoxamine (Luvox) increase concentrations in the blood of alprazolam and therefore may increase the side effects of alprazolam.
- Alprazolam interacts with alcohol and medications (for example, barbiturates, and narcotics) that suppress activity in the brain by suppressing activity more and causing sedation.
- Carbamazepine and rifampin reduce the effect of alprazolam by increasing metabolism and elimination of alprazolam in the liver.
Is alprazolam safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
What else should I know about this medication?
Alprazolam is available as:
- Tablets: 0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2 mg.
- Tablets ER (extended release): 0.5, 1, 2 and 3 mg.
- Tablets (Orally disintegrating): 0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2 mg. Solution: 1 mg/ml
Keep alprazolam should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
Alprazolam is available in generic form, and you need a prescription from your doctor or other health-care professional to obtain this drug.
Brand names for alprazolam are Xanax, Xanax XR, and Niravam.
Alprazolam is a member of the benzodiazepine family, which are sedatives that cause dose-related depression of the central nervous system. Alprazolam is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks, which cause:
- unrealistic worry and apprehension,
- shortness of breath,
- smothering sensation,
- cold clammy hands,
- exaggerated startle responses,
- problems concentrating, and
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Stress Quiz: Test Your Emotional IQ
Stress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If...
PTSD Quiz: Test your IQ of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Can you have PTSD even if you've never been to war? Take the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Quiz to learn about PTSD, who gets it,...
Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder) Quiz: Test Your Mental Health IQ
Could you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use...
Diet for Stress Management: Carbs, Nuts, and Other Stress-Relief Foods
While there are many ways to cope with stress, one strategy is to eat stress-fighting foods. Find out which foods to eat as part...
Addicted to Pills: The Health Risks of Drug Abuse
What is drug abuse? Learn about prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including depressants, pain relievers,...
Anxiety Disorder Pictures: Symptoms, Panic Attacks, and More with Pictures
Learn about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). See if your worries are normal or something more by learning about symptoms,...
Related Disease Conditions
Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep....
Stress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However,...
Muscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have...
Agoraphobia is a fear of being outside or of being in a situation from which escape would be impossible. Symptoms include...
Separation anxiety disorder is a common childhood anxiety disorder that has many causes. Infants, children, older kids and adults...
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under...
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems,...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder FAQs
- Stress FAQs
- Panic Attacks Disorder FAQs
- Prescriptions: Complying with the Doctor's Orders
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Prescription Drug Abuse
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat, Acudial, Diastat Pediatric, Diazepam Intensol)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- temazepam, Restoril
- triazolam, Halcion
- Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam)
- Ativan vs. Xanax
- Ativan (lorazepam) vs. Valium (diazepam)
Prevention & Wellness
- 3 Simple Steps Might Reduce Opioid OD Deaths
- Spring-Clean Your Medicine Cabinet to Safeguard Your Kids
- Drug Overdose Deaths Climb Dramatically in U.S.
- Fentanyl Overdose Deaths Double in a Year
- 1 in 6 U.S. Adults Takes a Psychiatric Drug: Study
- Common Meds and Dementia: How Strong Is the Link?
- Girls Given Risky Meds Don't Get Contraceptive Advice
- Seniors: The New Face of Addiction
- Kids' ER Visits for Medicine Overdoses Dropping: Report
- Anxiety Medications May Be Tied to Alzheimer's Risk
- Sharp Rise in ER Visits Tied to Abuse of Sedative, Study Finds
- Certain Sedatives Tied to Breathing Problems in Older COPD Patients
- Survey Reveals Rx Drug Abuse by Teens
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA Prescribing Information
Top alprazolam Related Articles
AgoraphobiaAgoraphobia is a fear of being outside or of being in a situation from which escape would be impossible. Symptoms include anxiety, fear, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, or dizziness. Treatment may incorporate psychotherapy, self-exposure to the anxiety-causing situation, and medications such as SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers.
AnxietyAnxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Clonazepam (Klonopin) is an prescription medication used to treat panic disorder, certain types of seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and the short-term relief of anxiety. Side effects include
Drug interactions, dosage, pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Diazepam (Valium, Diastat Acudial, Diastat, Diazepam Intensol) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders; and agitation, tremors, delirium, seizures and hallucinations that result from alcohol withdrawal. Side effects include:
Multiple drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Stress-Reducing FoodsWhile there are many ways to cope with stress, one strategy is to eat stress-fighting foods. Find out which foods to eat as part of a stress management diet.
Drug Abuse SlideshowWhat is drug abuse? Learn about prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including depressants, pain relievers, and stimulants.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
Anxiety SlideshowLearn about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). See if your worries are normal or something more by learning about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of anxiety disorders.
Klonopin clonazepam vs Xanax alprazolam
Klonopin (clonazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) are prescription drugs that belong to the drug class of benzodiazepines. Other benzodiazepines include:
- diazepam (Valium)
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- flurazepam (Dalmane)
Even though both of these drugs are benzodiazepines they are prescribed slightly differently. Klonopin and Xanax are both prescribed to treat anxiety disorders; however, Klonopin also is prescribed to treat certain types of seizures and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Side effects of both drugs are similar because they belong to the same drug class. Side effects of benzodiazepines include:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced libido
- Memory impairment
Both Klonopin and Xanax may cause physical dependence (addiction) so abrupt withdrawal is not recommended. Drug interaction and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety of these two drugs should be reviewed prior to taking the medication.
Ativan (lorazepam) is a prescription drug used for the management of anxiety disorders, short-term relief of anxiety, or anxiety associated with depression. Ativan is effective for insomnia, panic attacks, and is used for prevention and treatment of alcohol withdrawal. Side effects include:
- Loss of orientation
- Sleep disturbance
It is important to be aware of the drug interactions related to Lorazepam (Ativan), and the effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Mental Health (Psychology)Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Muscle CrampsMuscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Panic Attacks QuizCould you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use this quiz to learn to recognize the main elements of this serious, yet common disorder known as panic attacks.
Panic DisorderPanic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. A person experiencing a panic attack may believe that he or she is having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror that a person experiences during a panic attack are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them. Most people with panic attacks experience several of the following symptoms: racing heartbeat, faintness, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, chills, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of loss or control. There are several treatments for panic attacks.
Take the PTSD QuizCan you have PTSD even if you've never been to war? Take the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Quiz to learn about PTSD, who gets it, and why.
Separation AnxietySeparation anxiety disorder is a common childhood anxiety disorder that has many causes. Infants, children, older kids and adults can suffer from symptoms of separation anxiety disorder. Common separation anxiety treatment methods include therapy and medications. Factors that contribute to how quickly or successfully a child moves past separation anxiety by preschool age include:
- how well the parent and child reunite,
- the skills the child and adult have at coping with the separation, and
- how well the adult responds to the infant's separation issues.
StressStress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However, over-stress, can be harmful. There is now speculation, as well as some evidence, that points to the abnormal stress responses as being involved in causing various diseases or conditions.
Take the Stress QuizStress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If you're suffering, there are things you can do. Take the Stress Quiz to learn what you can do to beat the long-term effects of chronic stress.
temazepamTemazepam (Restoril) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy efficacy should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
triazolamTriazolam (Halcion) is a prescription medication used to treat short-term insomnia. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing and storage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.