Skip to main content
Select Source:

Buspirone

Buspirone

Definition

Buspirone is an anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) drug sold in the United States under the brand name of BuSpar. It is also available under its generic name.

Purpose

Buspirone is used for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders and for short term relief of symptoms of anxiety.

Description

Buspirone's mechanism of action is unclear but probably involves actions on such central nervous system chemicals as dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters and are involved in the transmission of nervous impulses from cell to cell. Mental well-being is partially dependent on maintaining a balance among different neurotransmitters.

Buspirone's actions are different from a common class of sedatives called benzodiazepines. The primary action of benzodiazepines is to reduce anxiety, relax skeletal muscles, and induce sleep. The earliest drugs in this class were chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and diazepam (Valium). Buspirone also acts through a different mechanism than barbiturates such as phenobarbital. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone has no anticonvulsant or muscle-relaxant properties, and unlike benzodiazepines or barbiturates, it does not have strong sedative properties. If insomnia is a component of the patient's anxiety disorder, a sedative/hypnotic drug may be taken along with buspirone at bedtime. Buspirone also diminishes anger and hostility for most people. Unlike benzodiazepines, which may aggravate anger and hostility in some patients, (especially older patients), buspirone may help patients with anxiety who also have a history of aggression.

The benefits of buspirone take a long time to become evident. Unlike benzodiazepines, where onset of action and time to maximum benefit are short, patients must take buspirone for three to four weeks before feeling the maximum benefit of the drug. In some cases, four to six weeks of treatment may be required. Patients should be aware of this and continue to take the drug as prescribed even if they think they are not seeing any improvement.

Buspirone is available in 5-, 10-, 15-, and 30-mg tablets.

Recommended dosage

The usual starting dose of buspirone is 10 to 15 mg per day. This total amount is divided into two or three doses during the day. For example, a dose of 5 mg may be given two or three times per day to make a total dose of 10 to 15 mg per day. The dose may be increased in increments of 5 mg daily every two to four days. Most patients will respond to a dose of 15 to 30 mg daily. Patients should not take a total dose of more than 60 mg daily. When patients are receiving certain other drugs (see below) in addition to buspirone, starting doses of buspirone may need to be lowered (for example, 2.5 mg twice daily), and any dosage increases should be done with caution and under close physician supervision. Dosages may need to be reduced in patients with kidney or liver problems.

Precautions

Buspirone is less sedating (causes less drowsiness and mental sluggishness) than other anti-anxiety drugs. However, some patients may still experience drowsiness and mental impairment. Because it is impossible to predict which patients may experience sedation with buspirone, those starting this drug should not drive or operate dangerous machinery until they know how the drug will affect them.

Patients who have been taking benzodiazepines for a long time should be gradually withdrawn from them while they are being switched over to buspirone. They should also be observed for symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Patients with kidney damage should take buspirone with caution in close consultation with their physician. They may require a lower dosage of buspirone to prevent buildup of the drug in the body. Patients with severe kidney disease should not take buspirone. Patients with liver damage should likewise be monitored for a buildup of buspirone and have their doses lowered if necessary.

Side effects

The most common side effects associated with buspirone involve the nervous system. Ten percent of patients may experience dizziness, drowsiness, and headache, and another 5% may experience fatigue , nervousness, insomnia, and light-headedness. Patients may also experience excitement, depression, anger, hostility, confusion, nightmares, or other sleep disorders , lack of coordination, tremor, and numbness of the extremities. Although buspirone is considered non-sedating, some patients will experience drowsiness and lack of mental alertness at higher doses and especially early in therapy. In most patients, these side effects decrease with time.

The following side effects have also been associated with buspirone:

  • nausea (up to 8% of patients)
  • dry mouth, abdominal distress, gastric distress, and diarrhea, constipation (up to 5% of patients)
  • rapid heart rate and palpitations (up to 2% of patients)
  • blurred vision (up to 2% of patients)
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • flatulence
  • non-specific chest pain
  • rash
  • irregular menstrual periods and/or breakthrough bleeding

Interactions

Dangerously high blood pressure has resulted from the combination of buspirone, and members of another class of antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Because of this, buspirone should never be taken in combination with MAO inhibitors. Patient taking any MAO inhibitors, for example Nardil (phenelzine sulfate) or Parmate (tranylcypromine sulfate), should stop the MAO inhibitor then wait at least 10 days before starting buspirone. The same holds true when discontinuing buspirone and starting an MAO inhibitor.

Certain drugs may inhibit the enzyme system in the liver that breaks down buspirone. Examples of drugs that might inhibit this system are erythromycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, itraconazole, an oral antifungal agent, and nefazodone , an antidepressant. When these drugs are combined with buspirone, buspirone concentrations may increase to the point of toxicity (poisoning). These combinations should either be avoided or doses of buspirone decreased to compensate for this interaction.

Resources

BOOKS

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. AHFS Drug Information 2002. Bethesda: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 2002.

DeVane, C. Lindsay, Pharm.D. "Drug Therapy for Anxiety and Insomnia " In Fundamentals of Monitoring Psychoactive Drug Therapy. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1990.

Jack Raber, Pharm.D.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Buspirone." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Buspirone." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buspirone

"Buspirone." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buspirone

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

buspirone

buspirone (bew-spy-rohn) n. a drug used to relieve the symptoms of anxiety (see anxiolytic). Trade name:. Buspar.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"buspirone." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"buspirone." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buspirone

"buspirone." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/buspirone

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Buspirone

Buspirone

Definition

Description

Recommended dosage

Precautions

Side effects

Interactions

Resources

Definition

Buspirone is an antianxiety (anxiolytic) drug sold in the United States under the brand name BuSpar. It is also available under its generic name. Buspirone is used for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders and for short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety.

Description

Buspirone’s mechanism of action is unclear but probably involves actions on such central nervous system chemicals as dopamine, serotonin, acetylcho-line, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters and are involved in the transmission of nervous impulses from cell to cell. Mental well-being is partially dependent on maintaining a balance among different neurotransmitters.

Buspirone’s actions are different from the common class of sedatives called benzodiazepines. The primary actions of benzodiazepines are to reduce anxiety, relax skeletal muscles, and induce sleep. The earliest drugs in this class were chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and diazepam (Valium). The mechanism of buspirone’s action is also different from barbiturates such as phenobarbital. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone has no anticonvulsant or muscle-relaxant properties, and unlike benzodiazepines or barbiturates it does not have strong sedative properties. If insomnia is a component of the patient’s anxiety disorder, a sedative/hypnotic drug may be taken along with buspirone at bedtime. Buspirone also diminishes anger and hostility for most people. Unlike benzodiazepines, which may aggravate anger and hostility in some patients (especially older patients), buspirone may help patients with anxiety who also have a history of aggression.

The benefits of buspirone take a long time to become evident. Unlike benzodiazepines, where onset of action and time to maximum benefit are short, patients must take buspirone for three to four weeks before feeling the maximum benefit of the drug. In some cases, four to six weeks of treatment may be required. Patients should be aware of this and continue to take the drug as prescribed even if they think they are not seeing any improvement.

Buspirone is available in 5-, 10-, 15-, and 30-mg tablets.

Recommended dosage

The usual starting dose of buspirone is 10 to 15 mg per day. This total amount is divided into two or three doses. For example, a dose of 5 mg may be given two or three times per day to make a total dose of 10 to 15 mg per day. The dose may be increased in increments of 5 mg daily every two to four days. Most patients will respond to a dose of 15 to 30 mg daily. Patients should not take a total dose of more than 60 mg daily. When patients are receiving certain other drugs in addition to buspirone, starting doses of buspirone may need to be lowered (e.g., 2.5 mg twice daily), and any dosage increases should be done with caution and under close physician supervision. Dosages may need to be reduced in patients with kidney or liver problems.

Precautions

Buspirone is less sedating (it causes less drowsiness and mental sluggishness) than other antianxiety drugs. However, some patients may still experience drowsiness and mental impairment. Because it is impossible to predict which patients may experience sedation with buspirone, those starting this drug should not drive or operate dangerous machinery until they know how the drug will affect them.

Patients who have been taking benzodiazepines for a long time should be gradually withdrawn from them while they are being switched over to buspirone. They should also be observed for symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Patients with kidney damage should take buspirone with caution in close consultation with their physician. They may require a lower dosage of buspirone to prevent buildup of the drug in the body. Patients with severe kidney disease should not take buspirone. Patients with liver damage should likewise be monitored for a buildup of buspirone and have their doses lowered if necessary.

Side effects

The most common side effects associated with buspirone involve the nervous system. Ten percent of patients may experience dizziness, drowsiness, and headache, and another 5% may experience fatigue, nervousness, insomnia, and light-headedness. Patients may also experience excitement, depression, anger, hostility, confusion, nightmares, or other sleep disorders, lack of coordination, tremor, and numbness of the extremities. Although buspirone is considered nonsedating, some patients will experience drowsiness and lack of mental alertness at higher doses and especially early in therapy. In most patients, these side effects decrease with time.

The following side effects have also been associated with buspirone:

  • nausea (up to 8% of patients)
  • dry mouth, abdominal distress, gastric distress, diarrhea, and constipation (up to 5% of patients)
  • rapid heart rate and palpitations (up to 2% of patients)
  • blurred vision (up to 2% of patients)
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • flatulence
  • nonspecific chest pain
  • rash
  • irregular menstrual periods and/or breakthrough bleeding

Interactions

Dangerously high blood pressure has resulted from the combination of buspirone and members of another class of antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Because of this, buspirone should never be taken in combination with MAOIs. Patient taking any MAOIs, such as Nardil (phenelzine sulfate) or Parmate (tranylcypromine sulfate), should stop the MAOIs then wait at least 10 days before starting buspirone. The same holds true when discontinuing buspirone and starting an MAOIs.

Certain drugs may inhibit the enzyme system in the liver that breaks down buspirone. Examples of drugs that might inhibit this system are erythromycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic; itraconazole, an oral antifungal agent; and nefazodone, an antidepressant. When these drugs are combined with buspirone, buspirone concentrations may increase to the point of toxicity (poisoning). These combinations should either be avoided or doses of buspirone decreased to compensate for this interaction.

Resources

BOOKS

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. AHFS Drug Information 2002. Bethesda: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 2002.

Preston, John D., John H. O’Neal, and Mary C Talaga. Handbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for Therapists, 4th ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2004.

KEY TERMS

Acetylcholine —A naturally occurring chemical in the body that transmits nerve impulses from cell to cell. Generally, it has opposite effects from dopamine and norepinephrine; it causes blood vessels to dilate, lowers blood pressure, and slows the heartbeat. Central nervous system well-being is dependent on a balance among acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Anxiolytic —A preparation or substance given to relieve anxiety; a tranquilizer.

Benzodiazepines —A group of central nervous system depressants used to relieve anxiety or to induce sleep.

Dopamine —A chemical in brain tissue that serves to transmit nerve impulses (is a neurotransmitter) and helps to regulate movement and emotions.

Norepinephrine —A neurotransmitter in the brain that acts to constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure. It works in combination with serotonin.

Serotonin —A widely distributed neurotransmitter that that works in combination with norepinephrine and is found in blood platelets, the lining of the digestive tract, and the brain. It causes very powerful contractions of smooth muscle, and is associated with mood, attention, emotions, and sleep. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.

PERIODICALS

Baldwin, David S., and Claire Polkinghorn. “Evidence-Based Pharmacotherapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 8.2 (June 2005): 293-302.

Buydens-Branchey, Laure, Marc Branchey, and Christine Reel-Brander. “Efficacy of Buspirone in the Treatment of Opioid Withdrawal.” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 25.3 (June 2005): 230–36.

Helvink, Badalin, and Suzanne Holroyd. “Buspirone for Stereotypic Movements in Elderly With Cognitive Impairment.” Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 18.2 (Spring 2006): 242%#x2013;44.

McRae, Aimee L., Kathleen T. Brady, and Rickey E. Carter. “Buspirone for Treatment of Marijuana Dependence: A Pilot Study.” The American Journal on Addictions 15.5 (September-October 2006): 404.

Quitkin, Frederick, and others. “Medication Augmentation After the Failure of SSRIs for Depression.” New England Journal of Medicine 354.12 (March 2006): 1243%#x2013;52.

Verster, Joris C., Dieuwke S. Veldhuijzen, and Edmund R Volkerts. “Is It Safe to Drive a Car When Treated with Anxiolytics? Evidence from On-the-Road Driving Studies During Normal Traffic.” Current Psychiatry Reviews 1.2 (June 2005): 215%#x2013;25.

Jack Raber, Pharm.D.
Ruth A. Wienclaw, PhD

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Buspirone." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Buspirone." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buspirone

"Buspirone." The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buspirone

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.