Buspirone for anxiety

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Most people are prescribed buspirone tablets for short periods of time only.

Taking buspirone may make you feel sleepy. It may also increase the time it takes for you to react, so it can impair your judgement. If this happens, do not drive and do not use tools or machines.

Do not drink any alcohol or large amounts of grapefruit juice while you are on buspirone.

Type of medicineAnxiolytic
Used forAnxiety (in people over 18 years of age)
Available asTablets

Most people feel anxious from time to time. Anxiety is normal in stressful situations and can even be helpful. However, anxiety can become abnormal if it appears for no apparent reason, or if it is out of proportion to a stressful situation or continues after a stressful situation has passed.

Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medicine which is prescribed for short periods of time to help ease symptoms of anxiety. Although it is not clear how it works, it is thought to affect a brain chemical which may be involved in causing anxiety symptoms.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking buspirone it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have epilepsy.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have raised pressure in your eye (glaucoma)
  • If you have a condition called myasthenia gravis, which causes muscle weakness.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about buspirone and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take buspirone tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is likely that you will be prescribed one 5 mg tablet to take two or three times a day to begin with. This may be increased after a few days if needed. Swallow the tablets with a drink of water.
  • Try to take your doses at the same times each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. You may choose whether to take buspirone tablets before or after meals, but you should stick to one or the other. So, either take all of your doses before meals, or take all of your doses after meals.
  • Do not drink large amounts of grapefruit juice while you are on buspirone. This is because grapefruit juice can interfere with the enzymes that break down buspirone in your digestive system. This may result in your body absorbing more of the medicine than intended. It will increase the risk of side-effects.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Remember to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or clinic. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Taking buspirone may increase the time it takes for you to react and may impair your judgement. Because of this, your ability to drive could be affected.
  • Buspirone may make you feel sleepy. Do not drink alcohol while you are on buspirone tablets as it will increase the risk of this.
  • If you are having any medical treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking buspirone.
  • If you need to buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with buspirone.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the more common ones associated with buspirone. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common buspirone side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy or sleepy, blurred visionDo not drive and do not use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol
Tummy (abdominal) pain, feeling sick or being sick, loose or watery stools (diarrhoea)Drink plenty of water and stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy food
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Dry mouthTry chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets
Changes in mood, difficulty sleeping, feeling unsteady, tingling feelings or numbness, fast heartbeat, nasal or throat symptoms, sweating, rash, muscle pains, constipationIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Buspirone Tablets 5 mg, 10 mg; Actavis UK Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2016.
  • British National Formulary; 71st Edition (Mar-Sep 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Mr Michael Stewart
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
3341 (v24)
Last Checked:
23/09/2016
Next Review:
23/09/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

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