Buspirone vs Xanax – Comparison of Side Effects & Uses


It is the generic name of a drug that treats the symptoms of anxiety. It belongs to a group of drugs called anxiolytics. Bristol-Myers Squibb discontinued its brand name called BuSpar

Mechanism of Action

This medication works on the central nervous system’s chemicals, like – serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and acetylcholine. These neurotransmitters are involved in the transmission of nervous impulses from cell to cell.


It is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, like – dizziness, irritability, tension, fear, and pounding heartbeat. In addition, this prescription medication is used to treat symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.


The initial recommended adult dose is 7.5 mg per day given in 2 divided doses. The dose may be increased in 5 mg increments every 3 days up to 20 to 60 mg per day in 2 divided doses.

The initial recommended pediatric (6 to 18 years) dose is 2.5 to 10 mg per day. The dose may be increased in 2.5 mg increments every 3 days to 15 to 60 mg per day given in 2 divided doses.

Note – it is essential that you continue to take this anxiolytic as your healthcare provider has recommended. It may take up to 2 weeks for this anxiolytic to work correctly.


Before taking this anxiolytic, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • diarrhea;
  • headaches;
  • weakness;
  • stomach pain;
  • drowsiness;
  • upset stomach;
  • dizziness;
  • vomiting;
  • nausea;
  • feeling nervous or excited;
  • numbness;
  • excitement;
  • fatigue.

Less common side effects may include:

  • a feeling like you might pass out;
  • shortness of breath;
  • difficulty sleeping;
  • chest pain;
  • lightheadedness;
  • depression;
  • dry mouth;
  • constipation.

Drug Interactions

Tell your healthcare professional if you have recently taken, are taking, or might take any other drugs, particularly:

  • baclofen (a muscle relaxant);
  • lithium and haloperidol (for mental illness);
  • calcium channel blockers, like – verapamil and diltiazem (to treat high blood pressure);
  • monoamine-oxidase inhibitors, like – tranylcypromine and phenelzine (for depression);
  • rifampicin (to treat tuberculosis);
  • tramadol (a painkiller);
  • warfarin (to treat blood clots);
  • trazodone and fluvoxamine (for depression);
  • antihistamines (to treat allergic reactions);
  • itraconazole, erythromycin, and linezolid (to treat infections);
  • lofexidine (to manage drug withdrawal);
  • diltiazem (to treat angina);
  • triptan drugs (to treat migraines);
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like – fluoxetine (for depression);
  • nabilone (to treat vomiting and nausea);
  • digoxin (to treat heart failure).


Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while taking this anxiolytic since alcohol use can substantially increase the risk of severe side effects.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

There are no well-done studies to determine whether this anxiolytic is safe to use during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider that you are pregnant or plan to fall pregnant before using this anxiolytic.

It is not known exactly whether this medication passes into human breast milk or it could negatively affect a breastfed infant. Tell your healthcare provider that you are breastfeeding a baby before using this anxiolytic.


It is the brand name of a drug called alprazolam, that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.

This medication is manufactured by Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical corporation. It was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1981.

It is the single most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States.


This prescription medication is used to treat panic disorder and anxiety disorders.

Mechanism of Action

This benzodiazepine acts on the nerves and brain in order to produce a calming effect by enhancing the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid. It is metabolized by CYP3A4 (an important enzyme in the body), that fluvoxamine inhibits.


It is available in various forms, including as an extended-release tablet, liquid, tablets, and disintegrating tablets.

It acts quickly in the body with most of the effects occurring within the first hour of use. This drug has a half-life of 12.15 hours and an M/P ratio of 0.4.

The usual recommended dose is 0.25 to 0.5 mg given three times per day. The maximum recommended daily dosage is 4 mg.


Do not drink alcohol while taking this benzodiazepine since alcohol can worsen the side effects of this medication.


This benzodiazepine may be habit-forming and its use may lead to addiction, overdose, or death. Abuse can become an addiction when you:

  • begin to crave for this drug;
  • cannot stop taking this medication;
  • take this benzodiazepine for recreational purposes or non-medical;
  • continue to take the drug despite negative consequences.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • clumsiness;
  • lack of appetite;
  • drowsiness;
  • problems sleeping;
  • being forgetful;
  • unusual tiredness.

Less common side effects may include:

  • problems concentrating;
  • problems performing routine tasks;
  • unsteady walk;
  • loss of pleasure;
  • changes in rhythms of speech;
  • feeling sad;
  • discouragement;
  • slurred speech;
  • irritability;
  • unsteadiness;
  • lightheadedness;
  • a difficulty with coordination.

Drug Interactions

It may negatively interact with other medications, especially:

  • certain medications which decrease stomach acid;
  • sleep medications, like – Unisom or Zolpimist;
  • Climara;
  • HIV and AIDS medicine, like – Reyataz, Invirase, or Kaletra;
  • antihistamines;
  • antidepressants, like – Asendin, Prozac, or Zoloft;
  • Adalat or Procardia (nifedipine);
  • sedating allergy medications, like – Benadryl or Atarax;
  • ergotamines, such as – Cafergot;
  • antipsychotics, like – Saphris, Abilify, or Latuda;
  • antifungal drugs, such as – Sporanox or Nizoral;
  • Cordarone or Pacerone (amiodarone);
  • Suprep;
  • other antifungals, like – Diflucan (fluconazole) and Vfend;
  • barbiturates, like – Amytal or Solfoton;
  • other benzodiazepines, like – Versed, Restoril, or Serax;
  • narcotic medication, like – Lortab, Stadol, or Darvocet;
  • Gengraf or Sandimmune (cyclosporine);
  • birth control pills;
  • Tolvaptan;
  • Cortastat, Solurex, or DexPak (dexamethasone);
  • anesthetics;
  • Dilacor or Tiazac (diltiazem);
  • antiseizure medications, like – Carbatrol or Mysoline;
  • Theo-24 or Uniphyl (theophylline);
  • antibiotics, like – Biaxin, Priftin, and Ketek.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

It may cause birth defects, especially if taken during the first trimester of pregnancy.

This benzodiazepine is not safe to use while breastfeeding because taking it while nursing can cause harmful side effects to the nursing infant.

Bottom Line – Buspirone vs Xanax

Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication which belongs to a group of medications called anxiolytics. It is used to relieve the symptoms of anxiety or to treat certain anxiety disorders. This medication works by changing the activity of serotonin and dopamine, natural neurotransmitters in the brain.

Xanax (active ingredient – alprazolam) is a medication that works by increasing the amount of GABA, a neurotransmitter which promotes a relaxed feeling and calmness. This drug reaches peak plasma levels within 1 to 2 hours and has a half-life of 12 to 15 hours. It is highly addicting and it can and is habit-forming.

According to a 1991 study, buspirone produces a more gradual, continuous improvement and Xanax produced an improvement within the first week of treatment throughout the study.

No clinically important differences were noted between these medications in vital signs, side effects, or laboratory test results.

Regarding their price, the average retail price for 15 tablets of buspirone 10mg is $3, while the average retail price for 15 tablets of Xanax 0.5mg is $77.




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