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Can You Take Gabapentin for Anxiety?

While everyone experiences some form of anxiety or stress at some point in their lives, people with anxiety disorders experience these symptoms daily, making it difficult to cope with everyday life. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in America, affecting 40 million adults aged 18 or older every year.[1] 

If you or a loved one has an anxiety condition, you might be familiar with the difficulties surrounding medication. Many people with anxiety struggle to find a medication that works for them. While there are many non-addictive forms of anxiety medications, there are also addictive ones that people turn to when other types of medications fail. 

One of the medications that people tend to use after other substances fail to work is known as gabapentin (Neurontin). While this substance works well in controlling anxiety symptoms for many individuals, it can be habit-forming or addictive when abused. If you are considering using this medication, it is important to be aware of how gabapentin works for anxiety and the risks of taking it.

What are Anxiety Disorders?

Everyone feels anxious during certain events, like speaking in front of a crowd or having an embarrassing accident in public. However, people with anxiety disorders feel symptoms of fear and panic during seemingly normal activities. For example, someone with a social anxiety disorder might feel anxious during any type of social interaction, even if it’s around people they know and love.

When someone has an anxiety disorder, they will experience the following symptoms:[2]

  • Frequent feelings of nervousness, irritability, or fear
  • Feelings of impending doom or danger
  • Physical symptoms like increased heart rate, excessive sweating, shaking, or breathing rapidly
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating 
  • Sleep disturbances from anxiety and racing thoughts 
  • Dealing with frequent nausea, abdominal pain, or diarrhea 

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, with each one having different causes or triggers for symptoms. For example, social anxiety disorder triggers symptoms during social situations while panic disorder can cause panic attacks at random. The type of anxiety disorder you have might affect what kind of treatment is best suited for you, which is why professional diagnosis and assessments are necessary. 

How are Anxiety Disorders Treated?

Anxiety disorders can be treated in a variety of different ways, with most people using a combination of therapy and medication. One of the most commonly used therapies for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a treatment method that teaches people emotional regulation skills and healthy coping mechanisms.[3] 

Medications are often used to balance the chemicals in your brain that anxiety is causing to be dysregulated. The first line of medication used for anxiety is usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).[3] However, if these medications do not work psychiatrists may use other medications to control symptoms. 

One of the medications doctors may use to treat anxiety off-label is gabapentin. If you are considering taking this substance for anxiety, being aware of how it works and whether it is addictive can help you make an informed decision. 

Can You Take Gabapentin for Anxiety?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and nerve pain medication approved to treat seizures, pain caused by shingles, and restless leg syndrome. It works by reducing the excitability of nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for seizures and transmitting pain signals.

The side effects of gabapentin may include:[4]

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Weakness 
  • Headaches 
  • Shaking or tremors 
  • Double or blurry vision 
  • Unsteadiness 
  • Memory problems 
  • Strange thoughts 
  • Heartburn, nausea, and vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite and weight gain 
  • Anxiety

While gabapentin is frequently used off-label to treat the symptoms of anxiety, there are no controlled trials that can determine its effectiveness.[5] While people have had success with gabapentin, this means that it is not officially approved as an anxiety treatment. That being said, case studies have found that gabapentin can reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders. 

Can You Get Addicted to Gabapentin?

While gabapentin might help control the symptoms of your anxiety, it is possible to become addicted to it. If you begin using more gabapentin than you are prescribed or combine it with other substances like alcohol or opioids, the effects you experience may lead to addiction. With that being said, you should always use caution when taking gabapentin for anxiety. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Prevalence of gabapentin misuse in the general population was reported to be 1%, 40–65% among individuals with prescriptions, and between 15–22% within populations of people who abuse opioids.”[6]

The signs of gabapentin addiction include:

  • Using higher doses of gabapentin than you are prescribed
  • Combining gabapentin with other substances 
  • Running out of gabapentin prescriptions too early 
  • Going to multiple doctors to receive more than one prescription
  • Experiencing strong urges or cravings to abuse gabapentin 
  • Continuing to use gabapentin despite experiencing increased physical or mental health symptoms 
  • Failing to meet responsibilities at home, school, or work because of gabapentin use
  • Needing a higher dose to experience the desired effect (tolerance)
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you cannot take gabapentin

Find Help for Gabapentin Abuse and Addiction 

If you or a loved one suffers from gabapentin addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. Long-term abuse of this substance can lead to a variety of physical and mental health conditions, making recovery vital to your overall safety. Thankfully, rehab programs like Mandala Healing Center can provide you with the tools and support you need to maintain long-term recovery.

To learn more about our prescription drug rehab center, contact us today. 


  1. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Anxiety Disorders- Facts and Statistics, Retrieved October 2023 From
  2. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Anxiety Disorders, Retrieved October 2023 From
  3. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Treatment of anxiety disorders, Retrieved October 2023 From
  4. Medline Plus: Gabapentin, Retrieved October 2023 From
  5. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder With Gabapentin, Retrieved October 2023 From
  6. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Gabapentin misuse, abuse, and diversion, Retrieved October 2023 From