Header Image for Buspar vs Prozac

Buspar vs Prozac

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.


For patients suffering from anxiety disorders or symptoms of depression, certain medications that alter neurotransmitter levels in the brain can help manage these conditions. Buspar and Prozac are two such drugs often prescribed for these mental health concerns. They each affect different neurotransmitters in the brain, but both have effects on mood stabilization. Buspar, also known as buspirone, is an anxiolytic medication which works by affecting the serotonin type 1A receptor on the neurons of our brains to help reduce symptoms of anxiety. On the other hand, Prozac is a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), predominantly impacting levels of serotonin and playing a crucial role in alleviating depressive symptoms.

Buspar vs Prozac Side By Side

Brand NameBusparProzac
ContraindicationsShould not be taken with or recently with MAOIsShould not be taken with or recently with MAOIs
CostBrand: ~$100 for 60 tablets of 10 mg, Generic: $0.10-$0.40 per day for 5 to 15 mg/day dosageBrand: ~$570 for 30 capsules of 20 mg, Generic: $0.05-$0.90 per day
Generic Namebuspironefluoxetine
Most Serious Side EffectSerious nervous system response, vision changes, signs of low sodium levelsSerotonin syndrome, manic episodes, severe allergic reactions
Severe Drug InteractionsMAOIsMAOIs
Typical Dose15–60 mg/day divided into two or three doses20 mg/day, up to a maximum of 80 mg/day

What is Buspar?

Buspirone (the generic name for Buspar) is a unique medication falling under the class of anxiolytics, which was a significant advancement from the earlier classes of antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Buspirone was first approved by the FDA in 1986. Unlike Prozac, which increases levels of free serotonin by preventing its reabsorption, buspirone functions differently - it facilitates serotonin production while also influencing dopamine receptors to alleviate anxiety symptoms. It is primarily prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder treatment. While Prozac mainly influences serotonin with minor effects on dopamine and norepinephrine, buspirone has a more balanced influence on both serotonin and dopamine pathways resulting in different side effect profiles compared to other anti-anxiety medications or SSRIs like Prozac.

What conditions is Buspar approved to treat?

Buspar (buspirone) is FDA-approved for the treatment of various anxiety-related conditions:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by persistent and excessive worry about everyday situations.
  • Short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety, providing temporary respite from feelings of fear, irritability, or unease.

How does Buspar help with these illnesses?

Buspar, also known as buspirone, helps to manage anxiety by affecting the amount and activity of serotonin in the brain. It does this by acting on serotonin receptors in a unique way - it is an agonist for some serotonin receptors (stimulating them) and an antagonist for others (blocking their activation). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger molecule throughout the body playing crucial roles not only in mood regulation but also cognition, memory, sleep patterns and appetite. Those who experience anxiety often have imbalances or irregularities with their serotonin systems. Therefore, by modulating these systems through action at various receptor sites, Buspar can mitigate feelings of unease or worry associated with anxiety disorders and help patients better manage their condition.

What is Prozac?

Prozac is a brand name for fluoxetine, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. This increase in serotonin helps to improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Fluoxetine was first approved by the FDA in 1987, making it one of the first SSRI antidepressants on the market. Unlike drugs like Buspar (buspirone), Prozac does not impact dopamine or norepinephrine levels significantly. Its focus on serotonin means that its side-effect profile can include things like weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and sedation - common issues with SSRIs but less commonly associated with other types of medication such as buspirone. Even so, many patients respond well to Prozac's effects on their mood regulation due to this specific action on serotonin.

What conditions is Prozac approved to treat?

Prozac, also known by its generic name fluoxetine, is approved by the FDA for the treatment of:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Panic disorder It's also specifically recognized for its effectiveness in treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.

How does Prozac help with these illnesses?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in mood regulation, sleep patterns and appetite. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression. Prozac operates by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin in the brain, thereby increasing its availability and enhancing neuronal communication which leads to improved mood. This unique action sets it apart from other antidepressants like Buspar which primarily acts on dopamine receptors and has minimal effect on serotonin levels. As such, Prozac is often prescribed as a first-line treatment for major depressive disorder due to its efficacy and tolerability profile. It may be used alone or combined with other medications when patients do not respond adequately to single drug therapy.

How effective are both Buspar and Prozac?

Both buspirone (Buspar) and fluoxetine (Prozac) have known effectiveness in managing mental health conditions, primarily anxiety and depression respectively. They were approved by the FDA a few years apart with Prozac being approved earlier. As they target different neurotransmitters, Buspar mainly serotonin 1A receptors while Prozac inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, their prescription varies depending on individual patient profiles.

In direct comparisons between buspirone and fluoxetine for treating anxiety symptoms associated with depression, both drugs demonstrated similar efficacy in symptom improvement as well as comparable safety profiles. One such study conducted in 2000 showed no significant difference in efficacy or tolerability between patients receiving buspirone or fluoxetine.

Fluoxetine's effectiveness has been consistently confirmed since its approval; it begins to alleviate depressive symptoms from the first week of treatment onwards, shows favorable side effect profile compared to many other antidepressants, is tolerated well even among elderly and pregnant populations. It remains one of the most widely prescribed antidepressant globally due to its proven track record across diverse populations.

On the other hand, although Buspar has shown promise especially for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it is typically considered a second-line treatment option after SSRIs or benzodiazepines. While research confirms its efficacy as an adjunctive therapy when co-prescribed alongside SSRIs like fluoxetine for augmentation purposes particularly where there're partial responses or intolerability issues with SSRI monotherapy alone; evidence supporting Buspar's use as standalone treatment for GAD isn't robust enough yet. However due to unique pharmacology which includes minimal risk of physical dependence unlike benzodiazepines and low likelihood of sexual dysfunction often seen with SSRIs/SNRIs/TCAs etc., Buspar may be more suitable choice for certain patient groups who cannot handle common side effects related to those classes.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

Find Top Clinical Trials

Choose from over 30,000 active clinical trials.

At what dose is Buspar typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Buspar range from 15–60 mg/day divided into two or three doses, but studies have indicated that starting with a dosage of 7.5 mg twice a day is enough to treat symptoms of anxiety in most people. Children's dosage will be determined by their healthcare provider and adjusted as necessary based on response. In either population, the dosage can be increased gradually every two to three days if there is no improvement in symptoms. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed 60 mg under any circumstances.

At what dose is Prozac typically prescribed?

Prozac therapy typically begins at a dose of 20 mg/day. If necessary, the dosage can be increased after several weeks to a maximum of 80 mg/day, divided into two doses for better management. The increments should be made carefully, with consideration given to the patient's response to treatment and tolerance level. It is essential not to exceed the prescribed maximum daily dose, as doing so may lead to an increase in side effects without further therapeutic benefits. If there is no response or insufficient improvement after several weeks on 20 mg/day, it might be beneficial to increase the dosage gradually while monitoring for side effects.

What are the most common side effects for Buspar?

Common side effects when comparing Buspar (Buspirone) to Prozac (Fluoxetine) may include:

  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Excitement
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach or constipation
  • Fatigue, weakness and drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbances such as abnormal dreams -Tingling or numbness in hands or feet -Palpitations (feeling of the heart pounding) -Rash.

It's important to note that these are possible side effects and not everyone will experience them. It is advisable to seek medical help if any of these symptoms persist over time.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Buspar?

While generally considered safe, Buspar (buspirone) does carry the risk of certain side effects that are important to be aware of:

  • An increase in thoughts about suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Vision changes such as blurred vision or tunnel vision; eye pain or swelling; seeing halos around lights
  • Changes to heart rhythm including fast or pounding heartbeats and fluttering in your chest. These may also be accompanied by shortness of breath, sudden dizziness and you could feel like you might pass out.
  • Symptoms indicative of low sodium levels in the body such as headaches, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting and loss coordination which may leave you feeling unsteady.
  • A serious nervous system response characterized by very stiff muscles; high fever; sweating; confusion; fast or uneven heartbeats; tremors - these symptoms could make you feel dizzy enough to pass out. If any signs suggestive of serotonin syndrome appear - agitation hallucinations fever sweating shivering fast heart rate muscle stiffness twitching loss coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea – seek immediate medical attention.

These are not all the possible side effects. Anyone who is taking Buspar should immediately contact a healthcare provider if they experience these symptoms so that their treatment can be adjusted accordingly.

What are the most common side effects for Prozac?

Prozac, a well-known antidepressant, can have several side effects including:

  • Dry mouth and an unusually heavy thirst
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or unusual dreams
  • Digestive issues like nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea
  • Sweating profusely or feeling hot more often than usual
  • Restlessness or nervousness leading to anxiety
  • Weight changes; either loss of appetite resulting in weight loss or increased hunger causing weight gain
  • Blurred vision due to pupil dilation
  • Increased heart rate causing palpitations
  • Frequent urination which could be bothersome especially at night time.
    In some rare cases Prozac may also cause rash on the skin. It's important to note that everyone reacts differently to medications and while these side effects are possible with Prozac use, not every user will experience them.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Prozac?

While Prozac is generally well-tolerated, it can occasionally cause serious side effects. Should you ever experience any of the following symptoms while taking Prozac, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Increased suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Severe nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Changes in sexual desire and ability
  • Serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations (seeing things that are not there), fast heartbeat, fever, overactive reflexes
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Manic episodes characterized by greatly increased energy levels and recklessness along with extreme happiness and irritability.

Always consult a healthcare professional when considering changes to your medication regimen.

Contraindications for Buspar and Prozac?

Both Buspar and Prozac, like the majority of antidepressant medications, could potentially exacerbate symptoms of depression in some individuals. If you notice an escalation in your depressive symptoms or any increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, please immediately seek medical attention.

Neither Buspar nor Prozac should be taken if you are currently on a medication regimen that includes monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), or have been taking them recently. It's crucial to always inform your doctor about all medications you're using as MAOIs will require around 5 weeks to leave your system completely to prevent harmful interactions with both Buspar and Prozac.

How much do Buspar and Prozac cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 60 tablets of Buspar (10 mg) averages around $100, which works out to roughly $1.67 per day, depending on your dose.
  • The price for 30 capsules of Prozac (20 mg) is approximately $570, working out to about $19/day.

Thus, if you are in the lower dosage range for Buspar (i.e., 5–15 mg/day), then brand-name Buspar would be less expensive on a daily treatment basis than Prozac. Note that cost should not be the primary consideration when determining which drug is more suitable for you.

As far as generic versions are concerned:

  • Generic buspirone can be purchased in packs holding between 30 and above doses with prices averaging at around $0.10-$0.40 per day if taking dosages within 5 to 15 mg/day or up to approximately $2/per day if higher doses are needed.

  • Fluoxetine is available in packages ranging from sizes like fifteen all the way up to one thousand capsules (20mg each). Costs start as low as just five cents a day if buying bulk upfront but won't exceed ninety cents a day otherwise.

Popularity of Buspar and Prozac

Buspirone, available in generic form and under the brand name Buspar, was prescribed to about 4.5 million people in the US during 2020. Accounting for close to 9% of anxiolytic prescriptions (medications designed to reduce anxiety), buspirone has continued to gain popularity due its unique property as a non-addictive anti-anxiety medication.

Fluoxetine, including brand versions such as Prozac, was prescribed to approximately 4.7 million individuals within the United States throughout 2020. Fluoxetine makes up just under than 20% of SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) prescriptions and is responsible for nearly one-tenth of all antidepressant prescriptions overall. Despite shifts in prescribing trends towards newer medications over time, fluoxetine's prevalence has remained relatively steady over the last decade.


Both Buspar (buspirone) and Prozac (fluoxetine) have well-established records of usage in patients with anxiety disorders, underpinned by numerous clinical studies and meta-analyses demonstrating their greater effectiveness compared to placebo treatments. Occasionally, the two drugs may be used together, but this necessitates careful consideration by a healthcare professional due to potential contraindications. Owing to their differing mechanisms of action - with Buspar mainly impacting serotonin receptors while Prozac primarily affects serotonin reuptake - they are often prescribed under different circumstances. Prozac can be considered a first-line treatment option for depressive disorders, whereas Buspar is commonly employed as an adjunct therapy or in patients who have not responded favorably to SSRIs like Prozac.

Both medications are available in generic forms which provide significant cost savings especially for those paying out-of-pocket. Both buspirone and fluoxetine might need an adjustment period wherein effects may not be immediately noticeable.

The side effect profiles between these two drugs bear similarities; both are generally well-tolerated. However, unlike many other anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, Buspar does not cause sedation or physical dependence which makes it safer for long-term use than other common alternatives. For both medications though, patients should closely monitor any changes in mood or behavior when initiating treatment and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms worsen or suicidal thoughts occur.