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Buspirone: 6 things you should know

Medically reviewed by C. Fookes, BPharm Last updated on Nov 2, 2018.

1. How it works

  • Buspirone may be used for the treatment of anxiety.
  • Experts are not sure exactly how buspirone works but think its anxiety-relieving effects may be due to its effects on serotonin and other neurotransmitter receptors such as dopamine.
  • Buspirone belongs to the group of medicines known as anxiolytics.

2. Upsides

  • May be used to treat anxiety disorders or for the short-term relief of anxiety.
  • Maybe less sedating than other medications used in the treatment of anxiety; however, there is a lot of variation in the way individuals respond to buspirone.
  • Does not appear to cause tolerance or dependence and not associated with abuse; however people with a history of drug abuse should be monitored closely.
  • Generic buspirone is available.

3. Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Dizziness, light-headedness, headache, nausea, and excitement.
  • May cause drowsiness, although buspirone is less likely to do this compared to most other medicines used for anxiety. Avoid alcohol and be cautious about operating machinery until the effects are known.
  • Interaction or overdosage may cause serotonin syndrome (symptoms include mental status changes [such as agitation, hallucinations, coma, delirium]), fast heart rate, dizziness, flushing, muscle tremor or rigidity and stomach symptoms (including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea).
  • May interact with grapefruit and grapefruit products. May interact with other drugs including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (avoid), erythromycin, nefazodone, itraconazole, diltiazem, and verapamil.
  • May not be suitable for some people including those with severe liver or kidney disease.
  • Not approved for people younger than 18 years.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

4. Bottom Line

Buspirone may be used for the treatment of anxiety and is less likely to cause sedation than other anti-anxiety drugs.

5. Tips

  • Take buspirone consistently; either always with or without food.
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice while taking buspirone.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Seek urgent medical advice if symptoms consistent with serotonin syndrome (such as agitation, hallucinations, fast heart rate, dizziness, flushing, nausea, diarrhea) develop.

6. Response and Effectiveness

  • Peak concentrations of buspirone are reached within 40 to 90 minutes of a dose.


Buspirone [Package Insert] Revised 11/2017. Par PharmaceuticalsInc.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use buspirone only for the indication prescribed.

Copyright 1996-2019 Revision date: November 1, 2018.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.