Xanax and Depression
While many psychiatric drugs have the potential to alleviate certain symptoms, they can also cause or worsen others. Before a doctor prescribes any medication, the objective is to consider the individual and weigh potential benefits versus risks. Of course, a prescription medicine should always have benefits that outweigh the risks, but sometimes people may react differently than expected to certain medicines.
Xanax is believed to work by affecting calming neurotransmitters in the brain called GABA. GABA acts as an inhibitor of neural activity in the brain. People with anxiety or panic disorders may have a deficiency of GABA. Xanax can calm overactive neurons in the brain and, as a result, calm anxiety symptoms. Xanax and other benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system, so they shouldn’t be combined with other CNS depressants. CNS depressants include opioids and alcohol.
Because of the calming effects of Xanax, someone who takes it will likely feel not only relaxed and calm, but also sleepy. People may appear intoxicated when they use Xanax, and they may have slurred speech or problems with coordination. For the most part, Xanax can be a safe medicine when used in the short term and as directed, but when it’s abused it can be dangerous. Xanax is often involved in visits to the emergency room related to prescription drugs.
While depression and anxiety can sometimes occur together in an individual, Xanax shouldn’t generally be used for the treatment of depression. Depression and anxiety have different causes, and changes in mood, including new or worsening depression, is a side effect of Xanax. Unfortunately, Xanax is sometimes used as a first-choice treatment for depression, and this can be dangerous. Xanax can cause depression in someone who didn’t have symptoms of depression before using it. This change is likely due to Xanax’s effect on GABA levels and its potential to calm brain activity too much. It’s believed that the longer someone takes Xanax, the more it builds up in the system and the more likely it is to lead to symptoms of depression.
Developing depression related to Xanax can also increase the chances a person will experience suicidal thoughts or tendencies. While Xanax and suicide aren’t talked about together frequently, suicide can be a serious side effect that comes from the use of this drug. Combining Xanax with another CNS depressant, like alcohol, can make depressive symptoms or suicidal thoughts even worse.
Depression or suicide related to Xanax can also occur if someone attempts to stop taking Xanax. Xanax is intended as a short-term treatment, but sometimes doctors will keep patients on it over a long-term period. This can cause physical dependence and psychological addiction. Someone trying to stop using the drug when they’re addicted and/or dependent may experience depression or suicidal thoughts as a rebound symptom of withdrawal.
It is important for the public to understand the links between Xanax and depression and between Xanax and suicide. All benzodiazepines have the potential to affect the mood of the user and to create or amplify depressive symptoms. This isn’t the only class of drugs that can have this effect. Other types of drugs that could cause symptoms of depression include opioids, hormone replacement treatments, and certain antibiotics.
The risk of developing depression as a symptom of Xanax is highest in people with a history of major depressive disorder, a family history of depression, or past depressive episodes. The symptoms of depression related to Xanax are the same as other depressive episodes. They can include feeling hopeless; losing interest in relationships, work and activities; aches and pains; and problems sleeping or concentrating. Doctors advise that symptoms of depression resulting from Xanax will usually start to occur within the first month of taking the medicine or shortly after stopping it. With any new prescription, patients are advised to keep a close eye on their mood and emotions.
If someone feels they’re experiencing a link between Xanax and depression or Xanax and suicide, they should immediately contact their healthcare provider(s). It’s important not to feel embarrassed about reporting these symptoms because it can end up becoming a life-threatening situation. It is also important that patients be completely upfront about their medical history if their physician is considering a Xanax prescription. If they have a history of depression, they should let their doctor know because another anti-anxiety medication may be a better option.
If you feel like your use of Xanax or other substances is out of control, or you think a loved one may be developing an addiction, The Recovery Village is here to answer questions and provide the important information needed to make a change.
Have more questions about Xanax abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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