Buspirone for Anxiety

The antianxiety drug buspirone (BuSpar) has fewer adverse effects than benzodiazepines, but it may be less effective, particularly for panic disorder. Common side effects of BuSpar are dizziness, headache, nervousness, and nausea. However, BuSpar causes less drowsiness than other drugs, and abuse is unlikely because it does not lead to tolerance or dependence.

In switching from benzodiazepines to BuSpar, a person may be able to minimize anxiety symptoms by starting immediately on BuSpar while tapering the dose of a benzodiazepine.

This medication has been used for the treatment of GAD since 1986. It is not known how buspirone works in the body to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Its attributes include the following:

  • Does not interact with alcohol
  • Few or no withdrawal symptoms
  • Lack of relaxant muscular effect
  • Lack of sedative effect
  • Works within 3 to 6 weeks and works effectively

Buspirone is usually prescribed for short-term relief of anxiety, providing the patient can tolerate its side effects.

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.; Debra Emmite, M.D.

Published: 06 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 07 Oct 2014