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What are the Side Effects of Xanax®?

Karyn Maier
Updated May 17, 2024
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Xanax®, also known as alprazolam, is a prescription-based psychoactive medication that belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. As such, it is prescribed for a variety of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety disorders, withdrawal from substance abuse, and to help prevent seizures. However, Xanax® is most commonly used to treat chronic anxiety, panic, and depressive disorders, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy. While it can be very effective, long-term use can lead to substance abuse and addiction. In addition, there are several other known side effects of Xanax®.

First, it should be understood that this medication is generally well tolerated in most people. However, as with any medication in this class, there is always the potential for unwanted side effects to occur, particularly in certain individuals. Further, it can be expected that the higher the dose, the greater risk of experiencing side effects of Xanax®. It should also be noted that these side effects frequently diminish over time and it is usually not necessary to discontinue treatment.

The most commonly reported side effects of Xanax® include dizziness, dry mouth, impaired coordination, and difficulty concentrating. However, this medication sometimes affects the gastrointestinal system, which is most notably characterized by constipation and a diminished appetite leading to unexpected weight loss. Rarely, allergic reactions may occur. If any of the preceding symptoms should become severe, or rash, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the tongue should occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Ironically, the side effects of Xanax® can also be paradoxical in nature. In other words, even though this medication is intended to depress the central nervous system and reduce anxiety, some people experience a stimulating effect instead. In these cases, it’s not uncommon to report sleep pattern disturbances, muscle twitching, hallucinations, and general agitation. In addition, some people who take Xanax® or depression sometimes experience an increase in depressive symptoms, including suicidal thoughts.

Other known side effects of Xanax® include a higher incidence of hepatitis and jaundice due to the drug causing an elevation in levels of liver enzymes and bilirubin. However, these events appear to occur more often in patients with a previous history of liver dysfunction. Other side effects of Xanax® hat may correspond to existing medical conditions include respiratory distress in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, improved glucose utilization in those with diabetes type II, and increased blood pressure and heart palpitations in those with a history of heart disease. In addition, there are known vision-related side effects of Xanax®, including worsening the symptoms of glaucoma. In fact, blurred vision occurs in about 10 percent of all patients who take this medication.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier , Writer
Contributing articles to WiseGEEK is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon248991 — On Feb 19, 2012

Xanax equals death.

By anon248990 — On Feb 19, 2012

Say no to drugs and that's it.

By amypollick — On Oct 15, 2011

The problem with Xanax is when long term patients go through withdrawals. My mom took it for several years to help her sleep and she was a mental case when she came off of it. It was awful.

This medication has its uses, certainly, but it's not for long term use, and its use absolutely should be carefully monitored. There's a reason bars of Xanax are so popular on the street.

Karyn Maier

Karyn Maier


Contributing articles to WiseGEEK is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill...
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