Ambien is a medication that is commonly prescribed for anxiety-related insomnia and other sleeping difficulties.

Anxiety is often associated with disrupted sleeping habits and other sleeping difficulties. Anxiety, worry and panic have the potential to keep people awake at night, causing periodic or persistent sleeping problems. Difficulty falling or staying asleep, also known as insomnia, is a reciprocal symptom often connected with anxiety.

An appropriate amount of quality sleep often decreases the severity of anxiety, and treating anxiety often reduces the symptoms of insomnia. Insomnia mostly occurs either simultaneously or shortly after an anxiety disorder begins. Medication and other sleep aids can be useful and effective in treating anxiety.

Ambien is a medication that is commonly prescribed for anxiety-related insomnia and other sleeping difficulties. Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic that works to quiet and slow brain activity to induce sleep. Ambien for anxiety works to relax and calm people with a high level of apprehension. However, Ambien has a high abuse potential and when use is stopped, many people experience rebound insomnia and anxiety.

Does Ambien Help with Anxiety?

In addition to initiating sleep, Ambien helps with anxiety. Ambien is a powerful sedative that initiates sleep and alters brain chemistry. Brain chemistry is changed to begin sedative effects. The medication works by increasing the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger in the brain. 

The responsibilities of GABA include slowing nerve firing, reducing anxiety levels and muscle tension and helping to initiate sleep. The neurotransmitter also diminishes the impact of brain chemicals which permit a person to fall asleep. The medication is effective for helping people fall asleep but does not assist them in maintaining asleep. Ambien anxiety relief is ultimately facilitated by an increase in the brain’s GABA activity. Ambien’s anti-anxiety benefit is paired with an individual’s ability to obtain restful sleep.

Can Ambien Cause Anxiety?

Ambien can cause anxiety because the medication may cause changes in someone’s cognition, emotion and behavior. 

Ambien is typically prescribed for short-term use, as the drug has high abuse potential and can be habit-forming. When taken over an extended period, people can become dependent on Ambien to sleep. Ambien was created as a non-habit-forming alternative to other sleep aids. However, Ambien is a drug that can cause chemical dependency, producing physical and psychological dependence.

If Ambien is taken on a short-term basis and as prescribed, addiction is unlikely to occur. When Ambien is taken for an extended period or taken at higher dosages, the risk of dependence becomes more likely. When used recreationally, Ambien can be administered in unsafe ways, increasing the risk of over-sedation and dependency. When abused at high doses, Ambien can cause increased energy and euphoria. 

Ambien is a depressant drug and restrains the central nervous system by preventing the firing of nerves. Long-term use of Ambien can decrease the brain’s ability to self-regulate, causing the brain to stop producing GABA at necessary levels.

When the use of Ambien is discontinued, the body does not know how to function without it. The brain works much faster than usual and tries to adjust by over-compensating the sudden change. This overcompensation triggers a rebound effect, causing the brain to become aroused and produces distressing withdrawal symptoms. The most frequent symptom is rebound insomnia, where the brain has difficulty falling asleep without medical intervention.

Ambien Withdrawal and Anxiety

Anxiety is another Ambien withdrawal symptom and results in increased anxiety. Ambien acts on the same GABA receptors that anti-anxiety medications work on. The neurotransmitter, GABA alleviates anxiety and reduces stress. It slows the central nervous system to prompt relaxation so when someone stops taking Ambien, they are likely to experience anxiety.

Key Points: Ambien and Anxiety

Some relevant facts to remember about Ambien and anxiety include:

  • Insomnia often co-occurs with anxiety.
  • Ambien is a commonly prescribed medication that acts by increasing GABA activity in the brain to produce a sedative effect, minimizing anxiety and initiating sleep.
  • Ambien has high abuse potential and can cause dependence.
  • Discontinued use of Ambien can cause the brain to overcompensate by producing rebound insomnia, Ambienwithdrawal-related anxiety and other uncomfortable side effects.

If you or someone you know is living with anxiety, insomnia or an Ambien dependence, help is available.  Consider contacting the Ambien hotline at The Recovery Village.  A representative can help determine if outpatient or inpatient treatment is warranted to assist you in treating anxiety and Ambien addiction.

a woman with blonde hair and a black shirt.
Editor – Jennifer Kopf
Jennifer Kopf is a Florida-based writer who likes to balance creative writing with helpful and informative pieces. Her passion for helping people has translated into writing about the importance of treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Read more
a woman with long hair smiling at the camera.
Medically Reviewed By – Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS
Tracy Smith is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Nationally Certified Counselor, an Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a mental health freelance and ghostwriter. Read more

Ackermann, K.  (2018, Nov 16 ).  Ambien W[…]and Tips.

Douytaz, M.M. (2018).  Ambien Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, Causes and Treatment.  

Fernandez, F. (2017, Aug 14). Ambien &[…]; Anxiety

Lautieri, A.  (2018, Nov 29).  Serious […] and More.  


Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.