What Are the Effects of Xanax?

Xanax (generic name, alprazolam) is a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug. As a benzodiazepine, Xanax works by “depressing”, or inhibiting, the nervous system. It may also be used to combat depression-related anxiety, as well as panic disorder. Because of the potential of severe side effects, certain individuals, such as children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and anyone with certain food and drug allergies, should speak with a physician before taking this medication. When taking Xanax, a missed dose should be taken as soon as remembered unless it is close to the next scheduled dose. The Mayo Clinic warns that taking two doses at once or altering the dosing regimen can result in serious side effects.

Common Side Effects of Xanax

Common side effects when taking Xanax include neurological effects such as irritability and talkativeness according to the National Library of Medicine. Some female patients may experience changes in their menstrual cycle such as missed or irregular periods. In addition, the Mayo Clinic notes that sex drive and ability has been known to increase or decrease in some patients. Appetite, as well as weight, may fluctuate. Constipation and difficulty urinating may occur. Xanax may also cause increased salivation or the opposite, dry mouth.

Less Common Side Effects of Xanax

A very few patients may experience abdominal bloating and cramping when taking Xanax. The Mayo Clinic also warns that there has been some reported cases of unpleasant tastes in the mouth unrelated to food. Cold and flu symptoms, although rare, may also manifest in patents taking Xanax. These effects include clammy skin, runny nose, sneezing, pain and redness of the face. Double vision and dry, itchy skin may also occur.

Serious Side Effects of Xanax

Some side effects are serious and may require immediate medical attention. The National Library of Medicine warns that seizures, hallucinations, confusion and cognitive impairment are severe neurological side effects that may affect patients taking Xanax. To that list, the Mayo Clinic adds problems with speech. Patients experiencing feelings of depression, difficulty concentrating and trouble sleeping–despite drowsiness or tiredness–should contact their physician. Changes in muscle coordination, unsteadiness, trembling and even clumsiness indicate a problem with the drug. Also, if a patient feels lightheaded or weak, he should seek medical help. Signs of an adverse or allergic reaction to the drug may include severe skin rash.

About this Author

Amber Angelle writes about health, science and technology. Her stories have appeared in Popular Mechanics, Discover and Popular Science. She blogs for Lemondrop and created a blog about brain and behavior at ScientificBlogging.com. She contributed to the textbook Psychology Around Us (Wiley, 2010) and wrote two articles on breast cancer for the encyclopedia Cancer (Salem Press, 2008). Angelle has a master’s degree in pharmacology.