Alprazolam tablets come in several different types, including regular tablets, extended release tablets and orally disintegrating tablets. They are sold under various brand names, such as Xanax® or Niravam®, or as generic pills. In many jurisdictions, alprazolam is a controlled substance and is available only by prescription.
This drug is part of a class of medications called called benzodiazepines, and it is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It works by minimizing abnormal brain excitement levels. Alprazolam may also be used to treat depression, premenstrual syndrome and agoraphobia. Taking too much of the medication can cause serious side effects, so it should be taken exactly as prescribed.
A physician typically prescribes a low dose of alprazolam tablets. The dosage is gradually increased every three or four days until the maximum beneficial dosage is achieved. Alprazolam can be habit-forming and should not be used for longer than the recommended amount of time.
Patients taking alprazolam tablets should not suddenly stop taking the medication without first talking to their physician, because this can cause withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include seizures, tremors, headache and blurred vision. Withdrawal can also cause sensitivity to light, sweating, insomnia and loss of concentration. Physicians typically wean patients off alprazolam tablets slowly to decrease the risk of withdrawal.
Alprazolam tablets can cause complication when used by patients who have certain medical conditions. These conditions include seizure disorders, alcoholism, glaucoma or major depressive disorder. Alprazolam tablets might be harmful to a developing fetus and should not be taken by pregnant women. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines and sleeping pills, can increase the effect of alprazolam tablets. Patients should inform their doctor of any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements they are taking.
This medication can cause side effects ranging from mild to severe, depending on the dose. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, fatigue and irritability. Dry mouth, constipation or changes in appetite, weight or sex drive might also occur.
In rare cases, serious side effects can occur, including shortness of breath, hallucinations, severe skin rash, jaundice and confusion. Thoughts of suicide might also occur. If any of these side effects occur, patients should seek emergency medical attention. Drinking alcohol while taking alprazolam can increase the risk of serious side effects.