Neurontin vs Xanax

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.


Neurontin and Xanax are two medications commonly prescribed to patients suffering from different types of anxiety or panic disorders. These drugs work by interacting with the neurotransmitters in the brain that influence feelings of calmness and relaxation. Neurontin, also known as Gabapentin, was originally developed for treating epilepsy but has been found effective in relieving symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). It works by binding to voltage-gated calcium channels in neurons, reducing excitability which helps stabilize mood swings.

Xanax on the other hand, is a type of benzodiazepine affecting gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors. This enhances inhibitory effects within the brain's neural network leading to sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties. Despite their differences both medications can be highly effective when used appropriately under medical supervision.

What is Neurontin?

Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, is an anticonvulsant that was first approved by the FDA in 1993. It works by affecting chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in causing seizures and different types of pain. Gabapentin is primarily used for nerve pain related to shingles or herpes virus infection but it can also be prescribed off-label for anxiety disorders due to its calming effect on nerve activity.

Alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax, is a benzodiazepine class medication which received FDA approval in 1981. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of certain natural chemicals in the body (GABA) thereby producing a calming effect on brain activity. It's most frequently prescribed for anxiety disorders or panic attacks but can be used off-label for other conditions.

While both drugs have sedative properties, they work differently within our bodies and their side-effect profiles differ accordingly. They should not be seen as interchangeable without consulting with a healthcare provider.

What conditions is Neurontin approved to treat?

Neurontin and Xanax have been approved for the treatment of various conditions:

  • Neurontin (generic name gabapentin) is used to manage seizures, postherpetic neuralgia, restless legs syndrome, and nerve pain related to shingles.
  • Xanax (generic name alprazolam) is primarily utilized in treating different anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, as well as anxiety associated with depression.

How does Neurontin help with these illnesses?

Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, works to manage certain types of seizures and neuropathic pain by influencing the activity of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. It does this by mimicking its actions and increasing GABA concentrations, which can block nerve signals that cause seizures and pain. GABA is an important chemical messenger that inhibits many neuronal functions; it plays key roles in behavior, cognition, and the body's response to stress.

On the other hand, Xanax acts more specifically on GABA receptors to increase their activity directly. This enhances its inhibitory effects leading to decreased anxiety, calming effects and muscle relaxation. Xanax is typically used for short-term relief of acute symptoms of anxiety disorders or panic disorder.

While both Neurontin and Xanax influence GABA activity in some way, they do so differently: Neurontin appears to increase production while Xanax boosts receptor function directly. As such choosing between them depends on specific patient needs - including whether seizure management or anti-anxiety effects are being targeted.

What is Xanax?

Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine that functions as a central nervous system depressant. It works primarily by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This action slows down overactive mental processes and produces a calming effect on the body.

Approved by the FDA in 1981, Xanax is not classified as an SSRI antidepressant; thus, it does not inhibit serotonin reuptake. Its specific action on GABA neurotransmitters gives it a distinct side-effect profile compared to SSRIs - for instance, while drowsiness can occur with both drug types, Xanax may potentially cause physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if used long-term or at high doses.

Xanax is mainly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder but can also be beneficial for patients who do not respond favorably to "traditional" SSRI's such as Prozac.

What conditions is Xanax approved to treat?

Xanax is a medication approved by the FDA to treat:

  • Anxiety disorders, which includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorders.
  • The short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety Please remember that while Xanax can help manage these conditions, it's important to talk with your healthcare provider about potential risks and benefits before starting any new treatment regimen.

How does Xanax help with these illnesses?

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that plays key roles in regulating relaxation and reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. This calming effect is utilized by many medications for anxiety disorders and sleep problems. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of GABA in the brain to produce feelings of calmness and relaxation as well as promoting sedation. Its rapid onset of action makes it particularly useful when immediate symptom relief is needed, such as during an acute panic attack. While Neurontin also impacts GABA levels, it does so indirectly and its primary use lies more within neuropathic pain management rather than anxiety control like Xanax. Thus, if an individual doesn't respond well to other anti-anxiety medications or needs faster-acting relief from symptoms of severe panic attacks or high-stress situations, they may be prescribed Xanax over options like Neurontin.

How effective are both Neurontin and Xanax?

Both gabapentin (Neurontin) and alprazolam (Xanax) have established histories of use in managing different types of disorders, with gabapentin initially approved by the FDA for seizures in 1993 and Xanax for anxiety disorder in 1981. They act on different neurotransmitters and are usually prescribed under distinct circumstances. Gabapentin is primarily used to manage seizures and nerve pain while Xanax mainly treats anxiety disorders.

The effectiveness of both drugs has been studied extensively: a 2007 randomized controlled trial concluded that gabapentin can effectively reduce neuropathic pain, whereas multiple studies confirm the efficacy of alprazolam as an anti-anxiety medication. Both medications also exhibit satisfactory safety profiles when taken as directed.

A review published in Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews indicated that gabapentin seems effective at treating chronic neuropathic pain, commonly well-tolerated, with dizziness being its most common side effect. The optimal dose varies significantly between individuals but generally lies within the range from 900 to 3600 mg/day.

On the other hand, a meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry suggested that alprazolam is highly effective at treating panic disorder but should be used cautiously due to risks associated with long-term use or misuse such as dependency or withdrawal symptoms. Compared to other benzodiazepines, it may cause more severe withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation after prolonged use; hence it's often considered a second-line treatment option behind SSRIs for conditions like generalized anxiety disorder.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Neurontin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Neurontin range from 100-3,600 mg/day, typically divided into three doses per day. However, it's common to start adults on a smaller dose (300 mg) and gradually increase as needed for treating seizures or neuropathic pain. For children aged 3-12 years old the dosage is usually calculated based on their weight at around 10–15 mg/kg/day and divided into three doses per day. On the other hand, Xanax dosages vary significantly depending upon the condition being treated but generally fall within 0.25–4mg/day range for adults with anxiety disorder. The maximum daily dose varies according to patient response and tolerance but often doesn't exceed 4mg in most cases.

At what dose is Xanax typically prescribed?

Xanax treatment often starts at a dosage of 0.25 to 0.5 mg taken three times daily. This dose can be increased as needed, however the total daily dosage should not typically exceed 4 mg, divided into smaller doses given throughout the day, with no more than 2mg per single dose. Dosages for panic disorder range from 1-10mg per day and are divided into multiple doses spread across the day. It's important that if there is no response to treatment after a few weeks or if symptoms persist, you should consult your healthcare provider immediately before making any changes to your medication regimen.

What are the most common side effects for Neurontin?

Common side effects of Neurontin (gabapentin) can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness
  • Fatigue and general weakness
  • Ataxia (loss of full control of body movements)
  • Nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movement)
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles, or feet
  • Changes in mood such as anxiety, restlessness, hostility
  • Difficulty with coordination and unusual eye movements -Skin rash

On the other hand, some common side effects associated with Xanax (alprazolam) are:

-Dry mouth
-Unsteadiness/coordination problems
-Possible changes in sex drive/performance.

It's important to note that while these lists highlight some common potential side effects for both drugs, they do not cover all possible side effects. If you're considering either medication it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider who will be able to give specific advice based on your individual health situation.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Neurontin?

Although Neurontin and Xanax are used to treat different conditions, they can both have serious side effects in rare cases. For Neurontin, these may include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Hypersensitivity reactions like hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat, fever with swollen glands
  • Changes in vision including eye movement problems or double vision
  • Irregular heart rhythms that could feel like a fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Symptoms indicating low sodium levels such as headache, feeling unsteady on your feet, confusion
  • Severe muscular issues - very stiff (rigid) muscles and tremors

In the case of Xanax:

  • Thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself
  • Unusual risk-taking behavior
  • Depressed mood
  • Hyperactivity
    -Seizures (especially if you take more than prescribed) -Uncontrolled muscle movements

If you experience any symptoms related to serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat rate while taking either medication contact your healthcare provider immediately. These include twitching muscles stiffness loss of coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea increased body temperature extreme agitation hallucinations overactive reflexes racing heart rate high blood pressure excessive sweating shivering severe nausea vomiting diarrhea.

What are the most common side effects for Xanax?

Xanax, while effective for many patients dealing with anxiety disorders and panic attacks, does come with potential side effects which you should be aware of:

  • Dry mouth or increased salivation
  • Drowsiness, insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting spells
  • Headache
  • Impaired coordination/balance problems
  • Changes in sexual desire/ability
  • Constipation or diarrhea
    -Tremors and increased sweating are also possible.

In rare instances Xanax can cause an increase in heartbeat rate; agitation or feelings of hostility; blurred vision; hallucinations; skin rash/hives/itching.

While not common, it's important to seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms become severe: yellowing eyes/skin (jaundice); seizures; difficulty breathing.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Xanax?

Though Xanax is typically well-tolerated, there are some potential serious side effects to be aware of. If you experience any of the following symptoms while taking this medication, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Hallucinations or severe confusion
  • Changes in mood or behavior that may include aggression, agitation, hostility
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements such as tremor or seizure (convulsions)
  • Trouble speaking and slurred speech
  • Yellowing eyes and skin which could indicate liver problems
  • Light-headedness leading to fainting spells; or
  • Rapid heartbeat

It's also important to note that sudden discontinuation after prolonged usage can lead to withdrawal symptoms including rebound anxiety and insomnia. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making changes to your prescribed regimen.

Contraindications for Neurontin and Xanax?

Both Neurontin and Xanax, along with most other antianxiety medications, may worsen symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your anxiety or mood worsening, or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behavior while taking these drugs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Neurontin nor Xanax should be taken if you are consuming alcohol or using opioid-based medication. Always inform your physician about any substances that you are currently taking; opioids will require a period to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with both Neurontin and Xanax. Furthermore, avoid abruptly discontinuing either drug as it may lead to withdrawal symptoms; instead consult with a healthcare professional for guidance on how to safely discontinue use.

How much do Neurontin and Xanax cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Neurontin (100 mg) averages around $377, which works out to approximately $6.28 - $18.85/day, depending on your dosage.
  • The price for 30 capsules of Xanax (0.25 mg) is about $72, working out to approximately $2.40 per day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Neurontin (i.e., 1800 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Xanax is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis.

Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For the generic versions of Neurontin (gabapentin) and Xanax (alprazolam), costs are significantly lower:

  • Gabapentin can be found in packs containing from 20 up to hundreds of tablets with prices ranging from as low as roughly $10 for smaller packs up to around $50 for larger ones; this translates into an approximate daily cost between $.17 and $.83.

  • Alprazolam typically comes in packs starting from 15 up to several hundred pills with the smallest pack pricing at around just over one dollar and going upwards according to size; this means that daily costs start at about $.07 if buying in small quantities but can drop even further when purchasing larger amounts upfront.

Popularity of Neurontin and Xanax

Gabapentin, in generic form as well as under the brand name Neurontin, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 64 million people in the US in 2020. Gabapentin accounted for a significant portion of prescriptions used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain. The use of gabapentin has been generally increasing over the past several years due to its efficacy and relatively good safety profile.

Alprazolam, including brand versions such as Xanax, was prescribed to approximately 48 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, alprazolam accounts for just over half of benzodiazepine prescriptions, one class of medications used primarily for treating anxiety disorders. Although effective at reducing symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks quickly, caution is needed with alprazolam due to risk factors like dependence and withdrawal symptoms; these concerns may explain why its prevalence has shown an overall decline since peaking roughly around 2013.


Both Neurontin (gabapentin) and Xanax (alprazolam) have proven efficacy in the management of anxiety disorders, backed by numerous clinical studies showing their greater effectiveness compared to placebo treatments. Although both can be used together in some cases, this is subject to careful consideration by a physician due to potential drug interactions and additive sedative effects.

Neurontin primarily works by mimicking the action of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, whereas Xanax amplifies the effect of GABA at its receptors. This leads them being prescribed under different circumstances: Neurontin is often considered for patients with neuropathic pain or seizures who also suffer from anxiety while Xanax is typically employed as a first-line treatment for panic disorder and other severe forms of anxiety.

Both drugs are available in generic form which offers significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. Both Neurontin and Xanax may require an adjustment period meaning that therapeutic effects may not be noticeable right away.

The side effect profiles are similar between these two drugs; they're generally well-tolerated but carry risks like dizziness, fatigue and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation - though such symptoms are more pronounced with Xanax due to its habit-forming properties. Patients should closely monitor their moods when starting treatment on either medication, seeking medical help immediately if they experience worsening depression or suicidal thoughts.