A very commonly prescribed drug in the U.S., Xanax is used to treat symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders. This doesn’t mean Xanax is used to treat regular worry and concerns people have. Instead, it’s intended only for very serious anxiety disorders that interfere with the daily life of a person. This can include generalized anxiety disorder as well as social anxiety.
Chronic anxiety one of the most common psychological disorders experienced by adults in the U.S., and research shows nearly 20 percent of people will experience some kind of anxiety disorder each year.
Xanax is a benzodiazepine that can be prescribed not to cure anxiety disorder, but to help the person cope with the symptoms. When you take Xanax, it impacts GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, which are responsible for regulating emotions and anxiety. Xanax serves to inhibit neuron messages, which makes the person taking it feel more relaxed and even sleepy.
While there are therapeutic benefits to taking Xanax, it’s intended only a short-term medication, and there are potential adverse side effects that can occur.
If someone takes Xanax and they don’t have a prescription or they don’t suffer from extreme anxiety, they often feel a sense of extreme relaxation or even euphoria, and that pleasurable feeling is a main reason Xanax is addictive.
Some other reasons Xanax may be prescribed include during alcohol detox, to control involuntary muscle movements, and for insomnia.
Regardless of the reason you are prescribed to take Xanax, you are meant only to take them when certain symptoms occur, and Xanax reaches the brain and produces effects very quickly.
A common question a lot of people have is can Xanax cause a seizure, and the answer is yes, primarily if you become physically dependent on it, and you experience symptoms of withdrawal.
One of the reasons Xanax is only prescribed for intermittent use is because of something touched on above, which is the fact that it reaches the brain and starts to take effect really quickly. Unlike something like an SSRI, with Xanax because of how fast-acting it is and the way it acts on the brain, if someone were to start using it regularly or for a prolonged period of time, they could quickly develop a tolerance to it.
The brain’s GABA neurotransmitters will start underperforming even more than they were before the person started taking Xanax, resulting in the brain’s adapting to the presence of the drug.When that happens, the person will have to take more Xanax and larger doses to achieve the same effect.
That is called tolerance. When you develop a tolerance, your body becomes physical dependent to Xanax as well.
Those are key considerations to understand when wondering whether or not Xanax can cause a seizure.
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Quitting Xanax cold turkey refers to suddenly stopping the drug without weaning or professional help.
If you have been regularly using Xanax, even for a relatively short period, and you suddenly stop without weaning off, your body may go into a sort of overdrive trying to compensate for the rapid loss of GABA activity. Your body goes into almost a shock trying to go back to its normal production of neurotransmitters in the brain.
According to the Washington Post, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of people who use benzos like Xanax for extended periods will end up physically dependent on them, and that can mean withdrawal symptoms manifest within a few hours of your last dose of the drug.
One of the most serious potential side effects of Xanax withdrawal is seizures. Along with the potential for Xanax to cause seizures, other potential risks that come with cold turkey withdrawal from Xanax can include psychosis, convulsions, paranoia and mania.
Withdrawal symptoms can ultimately lead to death as well.
To conclude the answer to the question of “can Xanax cause a seizure,” it’s yes, it can. This is a particularly big risk if someone attempts to stop using Xanax cold turkey. The best thing you can do if you’re in this situation is to seek professional help to stop using Xanax. To prevent a seizure from Xanax or other serious complications, it’s best to work with physicians to create a plan for gradually weaning off the drug.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.