How Xanax Works In The Brain

Have you ever wondered how Xanax works in the brain? What is it about this prescription drug that allows it to alleviate anxiety and panic attacks? What areas of the brain does it impact?

These are some typical questions people have regarding Xanax.

To understand how Xanax works in the brain, it’s key to have an overview of what it is and what it’s designed to treat.

How Xanax Works In The Brain
First, Xanax is often prescribed to patients as a treatment for a variety of anxiety disorders. Anxiety can be a normal response to stress, and it can help us be aware of potential danger, but with an anxiety disorder, the person feels excessive anxiety or a pervasive sense of fear. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental disorders among adults, and they are treatable by drugs like Xanax, as well as more long-term drug options, and with therapy.

Some of the most common specific anxiety disorders include a specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Also common are agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder.

For someone to be diagnosed with a clinical anxiety disorder, fear or anxiety would be present that would be out proportion to the actual situation at hand, or it could prohibit the person from functioning normally.

During diagnosis, a physician will make sure no physical problem is contributing to the anxiety, and then offer different options. The two primary options, as mentioned, are medications and something called talk therapy. The most commonly-prescribed medications are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.

Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication intended for short-term relief of acute symptoms. It’s not a medication designed to cure anxiety, but instead, provide a reprieve from the symptoms people experience as a result.

Understanding panic disorders and anxiety can help you create a foundation to then understand how Xanax works in the brain.

How Xanax works in the brain is largely based on the fact that it’s intended as a short-term medication for severe anxiety. It’s meant to be taken only for a period of two to four weeks. The active ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, which is part of a class of medicines called benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines act on GABA brain receptors. Xanax works in the brain by causing the release of the GABA neurotransmitter.

A neurotransmitter is a naturally-occurring chemical found in the brain and central nervous system nerve cells, and they relay messages. GABA is specifically a neurotransmitter that acts to calm the activity of nerves. When your nerves are firing in overdrive, this is what contributes to the feelings of anxiety or panic you may experience.

Along with keeping you feeling relaxed, GABA also plays a role in how tired you feel, and how relaxed your muscles are. All of these are pertinent to understanding how Xanax works in the brain.

When you take Xanax, it increases your brain’s GABA activity and creates a feeling of calm. Anxiety is reduced, but you may also feel like your muscles are more relaxed, and you may feel sleepy.

Some physicians describe Xanax as working somewhat like a set of brakes. When a car is propelling down a hill rapidly, the Xanax can be like the brakes of that car. With that being said, when you take Xanax it affects how your brain naturally produces GABA. When you don’t have enough GABA before taking Xanax, using the drug can actually make that problem worse. With the presence of Xanax in the brain your body will think it can reduce its production of GABA. You’ll start making even less naturally than you did before, and the Xanax you take also won’t work as well as it did initially.

To sum up how Xanax works on the brain, it ultimately decreases brain activity. If you don’t suffer from clinical anxiety or panic disorder, the use of Xanax can work in the brain differently.

When you take Xanax, and you don’t have extreme anxiety, you will often experience what’s described as a high including euphoria and deep relaxation. When you take Xanax without needing it for a clinical reason, it can quickly become addictive as a result.

Understanding how Xanax works in the brain is an important component of understanding whether or not you should take the drug, and also how the potential for abuse and dependence begins.

How Xanax Works In The Brain
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