Buspar, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety (including generalized anxiety disorder or GAD), is a godsend for many people, alleviating their anxiety symptoms and allowing them to get back to leading a normal life. Although it can be an incredibly effective drug for some, a significant minority of people experience side-effects from the drug. I have been on buspirone (the generic form of Buspar) for several months, and while the medication has reduced my anxious symptoms significantly, I have had to deal with some unwanted effects of the medicine. Here are my tips and tricks for managing the side effects of Buspar:
1. Always take your Buspar with plenty of food. Although the prescribing information says the drug may be taken with or without food, in my experience, Buspar makes you much less nauseous when taken with food. I’m not talking about a couple of crackers, either–in order for me to get to the point where buspirone didn’t make me sick to my stomach, I had to take it with a full, well-balanced meal. Since Buspar is usually written as a twice-a-day prescription, this means eating at least two full meals every day.
2. Take the majority of your dose at bedtime. Although Buspar will generally need to be taken two times per day, there is no rule saying these have to be equal doses. For example, if you are taking 30 milligrams of Buspar each day, you could take 10mg in the morning and 20mg at night. Buspar can make you dizzy and nauseous, so by taking the majority of your dose just before bed, you can avoid these side effects since you will be sleeping when they are at their worst.
3. Consider taking Buspar three times per day instead of two. For many people, lower single doses of Buspar translate to fewer side effects. Some individuals have found that their side effects subside when they take their buspirone three times per day instead of only twice per day. Since the total daily dose will be the same, it generally doesn’t matter how you split it up throughout a 24-hour period. Always check with your doctor before changing your medication schedule.
4. Make sure you are taking the lowest possible dose of Buspar needed for symptom relief. Many doctors will start patients on a relatively high dose of Buspar in order to relieve anxiety symptoms as quickly as possible. While this may be needed on a short-term basis, many patients with GAD do fine over the long-term with a dose of just 10mg to 20mg of buspirone each day. If you are taking a higher dose of Buspar and are experiencing negative side effects, ask your doctor if a trial of a lower-dose of the medicine might be right for you. Some individuals were able to eliminate their side effects partially or completely by switching to a lower dose of the drug.