Xanax Side Effects

by on June 21, 2011


Generic Name: Alprazolam.  The most common side effects of Xanax are dizziness, fatigue, vertigo, rash, and constipation, all of which typically manifest only at the beginning of treatment. Additionally, men and women on Xanax have also reported frequent instances of decreased libido and sexual dysfunction. More serious side effects include jaundice, depression, suicidal tendencies, and addiction, along with very rare cases of paradoxical reactions like rage and mania.

Common Xanax Side Effects

In general, Xanax has not been shown to produce serious side effects in a large number of patients. However, some adverse effects may occur (most of which are associated with high doses of the drug). These include:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Rash
  • Constipation
  • Increased appetite
  • Slurred speech

Side effects associated with Xanax (Alprazolam) have been known to diminish or disappear once the body has become accustomed to regular doses of the drug. However, if these side effects are persistent or increasingly worse, the patient should seek medical attention.

Serious Xanax Side Effects

Xanax Side Effects

While the aforementioned list constitutes the most commonly reported side effects, more serious adverse effects have been shown to arise in rare cases. These include:

  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Jaundice (yellowing skin or eyes)
  • Anterograde amnesia (the inability to make new memories)

Other serious side effects may occur when a patient experiences an allergic reaction to Xanax. These include, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, hives, and shortness of breath.  In both cases of allergic reaction and with the more serious symptoms listed above, a physician should be contacted immediately.

Paradoxical Side Effects

Occasionally, use of Xanax can cause what are called “paradoxical reactions,” which are side effects that exhibit the opposite of the drug’s intended therapeutic function.

For example, if a headache medication were to actually worsen someone’s headache, that would be a paradoxical reaction. Paradoxical side effects of Xanax include tremors, aggression, rage, mania, and restlessness—all clearly opposed to the sedative and relaxing effects Xanax is supposed to induce. If these occur, use of the drug should be discontinued.

Side Effects in Men and Women

There are very few side effects of Xanax that are gender-specific. However, Xanax has been known to cause erectile dysfunction in men, and women on the drug have reported decreased libido and inability to achieve orgasm. The side effects in pregnant women are not well researched and therefore largely indeterminable; thus, women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised not to take Xanax, as the few studies conducted do indicate that the drug may cause birth defects.

Xanax Addiction

Another adverse side effect of Xanax is its potential to become habit forming. In fact, alprazolam has proven to be one of the most addictive anti-anxiety medications on the market—and one of the most abused. Though it is often prescribed on a short-term basis, some individuals may continue to take it for longer periods of time, or more frequently than is directed. This leads the user into a vicious cycle in which the Xanax itself is self-prescribed to treat the anxiety, insomnia, and agitation that arises from Xanax withdrawal. For these cases, drug addiction rehab therapy is recommended.

Weight Side Effects

Weight gain is one of the most benign, but most common side effects reported by Xanax users. Studies have shown that patients taking the drug to treat panic disorders are more likely to gain weight than those taking Xanax for anxiety disorders. Specifically, trials demonstrate that 30% of the former gain weight on Xanax as opposed to less than 20% of the latter cases, though this might be attributed to the fact that panic disorder patients are often prescribed a higher dose of the drug.

Aside from the list of common side effects of which every patient should be aware, Xanax has been approved safe for adults by the FDA. However, Xanax is not safe for children, as risk factors and side effects in younger age groups have not been sufficiently studied.