Buspirone

Sounds like 'bue-SPYE-rone'

Buspirone is used to ease the symptoms of severe anxiety or anxiety disorder. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Buspirone is also called Buspar.

What is buspirone?

Buspirone is used to ease the symptoms of severe anxiety or anxiety disorder. It is usually prescribed for short periods of time to help ease symptoms such as fear, tension, irritability, dizziness and pounding heartbeat.

Buspirone is not a tranquiliser (sleeping tablet) or a benzodiazepine. Although it is not clear exactly how buspirone works, it is thought to affect a brain chemical that may be involved in causing anxiety symptoms. Read more about anxiety disorder

Dose

  • In New Zealand buspirone is available as tablets (5 mg and 10 mg).
  • The usual dose is 5 mg 3 times a day to begin with. This may be increased after a few days if needed.
  • Always take your buspirone exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much buspirone to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

How to take buspirone

  • Timing: Buspirone is usually prescribed 3 times a day. Try to take your doses at the same times each day. You can take buspirone 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.
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcohol. Taking buspirone and alcohol can make you more sleepy, drowsy or dizzy, and increase your risk of falls.
  • Avoid large quantities of grapefruit juice. Having large quantities of grapefruit while taking buspirone can increase your risk of side effects. 
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Keep taking buspirone every day. The effects of buspirone are not immediate. It may take 3–4 weeks before you start to feel better. Initially you may begin to notice a decrease in irritability and worry. Do not stop taking this medicine without talking to your healthcare provider first.

Precautions – before starting buspirone

  • Do you have problems with your liver or kidney?
  • Do you have glaucoma?
  • Do you have epilepsy? 
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are you taking any other medicines? This includes any medicines you buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines, and medicines for pain relief.

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start buspirone. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Side effects

Like all medicines, buspirone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Problems with dizziness and drowsiness

This is quite common when you start taking buspirone. Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you. Also be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting. The loss of balance and dizziness can put you at risk of falls and injuries, especially if you are an older adult. Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking buspirone. This can make dizziness and drowsiness worse. Tell your doctor if these side effects are causing you problems. You may need a lower dose.

Other side effects

Side effects What should I do?
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • These are quite common when you first start taking buspirone. 
  • Tell to your doctor if troublesome. 
Frequent mood changes, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide or abnormal behaviours
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.

Reference

  1. Buspirone NZ Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 11 May 2021