Cyclobenzaprine vs. Xanax: What's the difference?

What is cyclobenzaprine? What is Xanax?

Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant used for short-term relief of muscle spasms associated with acute painful muscle and skeletal conditions, along with rest and physical therapy. Cyclobenzaprine is indicated for short-term use, up to two or three weeks. Cyclobenzaprine relieves muscle spasm when the spasm is due to local problems in the muscle itself and not in the nerves that control the muscles. Cyclobenzaprine achieves its beneficial effect through a complex mechanism within the nervous system, probably in the brainstem.

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine type anti-anxiety medication used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Other benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane), and others. Xanax and other benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may cause anxiety or other psychiatric disorders.

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What are the side effects of cyclobenzaprine and Xanax?

Cyclobenzaprine

The most common side effects of cyclobenzaprine include:

Other reported side effects include:

Possible serious side effects include:

Abrupt cessation after prolonged therapy may cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and weakness.

Xanax

The most common side effects of Xanax taken at lower doses are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

Other side effects include:

What are the withdrawal symptoms of Xanax?

Withdrawal Addiction is more likely to occur at high doses given over prolonged periods. 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 of cyclobenzaprine vs. Xanax?

Cyclobenzaprine

The recommended dose of cyclobenzaprine dose is 5 or 10 mg three times daily using immediate release tablets or 15 or 30 mg once daily using extended release tablets.

Xanax

  • 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.

What drugs interact with cyclobenzaprine and Xanax?

Cyclobenzaprine

  • Cyclobenzaprine is chemically related to the tricyclic class of antidepressants, for example, amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), nortriptyline Pamelor). As such, it should not be taken with or within two weeks of any monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane). High fever, convulsions, and even death can occur when these drugs are used together.
  • Cyclobenzaprine interacts with other medications and drugs that slow the brain's processes, such as
    • alcohol,
    • barbiturates,
    • benzodiazepines, for example, diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and
    • narcotics.

Xanax

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Are cyclobenzaprine and Xanax safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Cyclobenzaprine

  • There are no adequate studies of cyclobenzaprine in pregnant women. However, studies in animals suggest no important effects on the fetus. Cyclobenzaprine therefore can be used in pregnancy if the physician feels that it is necessary.
  • It is not known whether cyclobenzaprine is secreted in milk. However, since it is related to the tricyclic antidepressants, some of which are excreted in breast milk, caution is advised in using this medication in women who are breastfeeding.

Xanax

  • Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, can cause fetal abnormalities and should not be used in pregnancy.
  • Alprazolam is excreted in breast milk and it can affect nursing infants. Therefore, women who are should not take alprazolam while breastfeeding.

Summary

Cyclobenzaprine and Xanax (alprazolam) are used to relieve muscle spasms. Cyclobenzaprine is used with rest and physical therapy for short-term relief of muscle spasms associated with acute painful muscle and skeletal conditions. Xanax is mainly used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/6/2019
References
FDA Prescribing Information
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