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Buspirone: 7 things you should know

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Nov 6, 2019.

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.

Note: 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. View complete list of side effects

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.

7. Interactions

Medicines that interact with buspirone may either decrease its effect, affect how long it works for, increase side effects, or have less of an effect when taken with buspirone. An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of the medications; however, sometimes it does. Speak to your doctor about how drug interactions should be managed.

Common medications that may interact with buspirone include:

  • any medicine that inhibits or induces CYP3A4 enzymes, such as clarithromycin, erythromycin, ketoconazole, ritonavir, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampicin, or St. John's Wort
  • other anti-anxiety medications, including benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and oxazepam
  • antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, imipramine, nefazodone or nortriptyline
  • antihistamines that cause sedation, such as diphenhydramine
  • barbiturates
  • calcium channel blockers, such as diltiazem or verapamil
  • cimetidine
  • cyclobenzaprine and other muscle relaxants
  • duloxetine
  • grapefruit
  • mifepristone
  • medicines that also release serotonin, such as lithium or triptans
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as selegiline, isocarboxazid, or phenelzine
  • opioid analgesics such as codeine, oxycodone, and morphine
  • sleeping pills, such as zolpidem
  • some medications used to treat mental illness, such as haloperidol, clozapine, and thioridazine
  • warfarin.

Alcohol may worsen the side effects of buspirone such as drowsiness and dizziness.

Note that this list is not all-inclusive and includes only common medications that may interact with buspirone. You should refer to the prescribing information for buspirone for a complete list of interactions.


Buspirone. Revised 08/2019.

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 1996-2021 Revision date: January 23, 2020.

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