Buspirone is a mental health drug that is primarily prescribed to treat anxiety. Importantly, buspirone has a delayed onset of about 2 weeks, so it is not effective for treating acute panic attacks. Buspirone is a great option for chronic treatment of anxiety because it has minimal side effects compared to other anti-anxiety medications.

Key Points

  • Mechanism
    • Anxiolytic
      • Binds to serotonin and dopamine receptors
        • Does not act on GABA receptors like benzodiazepines do, meaning it has less sedative effects and a lower risk of dependence
      • Slow onset of action (1-2 weeks)
        • Not appropriate for panic attacks or PRN use
        • Another anxiolytic may be prescribed initially until buspirone has time to take effect
        • Instruct patient starting buspirone to take the medication as prescribed, even if they don’t notice a difference at first
    • Clinical Use
      • Anxiety
        • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
        • Anxiety-related depression
        • Not useful for acute anxiety or panic disorder
    • Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
      • Drug Interactions/Toxicity
        • Avoid use with grapefruit juice
        • Do not take concurrently with MAOIs
      • Dizziness, headache
      • Restlessness, nervousness, agitation
      • GI distress
        • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
        • Patient can take with food to minimize GI upset