Updated on July 27, 2023
9 min read

What's an Effective Way to Handle Buspar Withdrawal?

It’s essential to take medication as your doctor prescribes. For those taking Buspar, becoming dependent on the drug can be dangerous. It's risky to stop taking it suddenly without consulting your doctor.

Withdrawal from Buspar can be difficult, as your body needs to adjust and readjust to the reduced medication levels in your system. So it’s crucial to understand Buspar's withdrawal symptoms and how to handle them to maximize success when tapering off the drug.

What is Buspar (Buspirone)?

Buspar (buspirone) is an anti-anxiety medication that affects the brain’s neurotransmitters to reduce anxiety. It's beneficial in doing so but can have side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness. 

Buspar works by regulating the levels of serotonin and dopamine to treat anxiety. These are two critical neurotransmitters in the brain.

Originally developed as an antipsychotic in 1968, Buspirone has quickly gained popularity among healthcare professionals with its lower risk of side effects than other treatment options.1

Similar to benzodiazepines (which are commonly associated with anti-anxiety medications and withdrawal), Buspar is an anxiolytic, meaning it is used to treat anxiety. 

Buspar treats generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and is FDA-approved for managing anxiety disorders. It can also provide short-term relief for symptoms of anxiety. In addition, doctors sometimes use it off-label to enhance the treatment of unipolar depression.


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What are the Common Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms?

common buspar withdrawal symptoms

Buspirone use doesn’t carry the risk of physical dependence or withdrawal, distinguishing it from benzodiazepines and barbiturates. This is because it does not affect GABA receptors.1

However, for those who experience Buspar withdrawal symptoms, signs vary. The severity and duration differ and may last for days or weeks after you stop taking the drug. 

Common withdrawal symptoms include:2,3

  • Abdominal cramps: Abdominal pain is often associated with issues in the digestive tract. However, it can also stem from other abdominal organs like the kidneys and large blood vessels like the aorta.
  • Agitation: Agitation is a feeling of intense anxiety or irritability. Restlessness, increased heart rate, and sweating can accompany it.
  • Burning feelings: Some people going through Buspar withdrawal effects can experience an unusual burning sensation along the arms, legs, or chest. It may come and go throughout the day.
  • Confusion: Buspar withdrawal can cause confusion or clouded thinking.
  • Dizziness: Withdrawal can cause a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Flu-like symptoms without a fever: Some people may experience flu-like symptoms, such as chills and fatigue.
  • Headache: Some may experience headaches of varying intensity due to the changing levels of medication in their system.
  • Increased anxiety: Anxiety symptoms can return or worsen after stopping the medication.
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances: Withdrawal can cause difficulty in falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or both.
  • Irritability: Buspar withdrawal may cause a person to be easily agitated or annoyed.
  • Nausea and vomiting: An uneasiness in the stomach may be present, sometimes accompanied by vomiting.
  • Nervousness: Feelings of fear may become more intense, potentially accompanied by chest pain.
  • Muscle cramps: Like flu-like symptoms, muscle cramps can occur in the legs or arms.
  • Seizures: In some cases, seizures can occur suddenly. If this happens, contact emergency medical services immediately.
  • Sweating: Buspirone withdrawal may cause excessive sweating or night sweats, particularly when combined with anxiety or agitation.
  • Tremor: Withdrawal can cause trembling or shaking hands, arms, legs, jaw, or tongue.
  • Unusual weakness or tiredness: The body may become weak or tired, making it difficult to stay awake.

Seek medical advice from experts before discontinuing Buspar to avoid experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Consult your doctor for a safe dosage reduction strategy that minimizes drug withdrawal effects.

Can Buspar Withdrawal Cause Anxiety?

Yes, Buspar withdrawal can cause a significant spike in anxiety for those taking the drug. Sometimes, the person may have returned to their pre-medication stress level. In other cases, the person may experience a heightened level of anxiety.

When a person stops taking Buspar suddenly, their body and brain must readjust quickly, which can be stressful. Anxiety levels may spike during withdrawal, sometimes leading to panic attacks.

It’s important to realize that these symptoms are not permanent and will eventually subside. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms.

How Long Do Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Buspar swiftly clears the body compared to other antidepressants and anxiety treatments. On the other hand, withdrawal symptoms from Buspar usually only last a couple of days during tapering.

However, in rare cases, symptoms may persist longer. A slower taper over a more extended period is necessary in these instances. 

Here's a general timeline for Buspar withdrawal symptoms:

  1. With a 2 to 3-hour half-life, this drug leaves your system within 24 to 48 hours after the last dose.4
  2. The first two days will be the worst for common buspirone withdrawal symptoms. These include insomnia, agitation, confusion, and nausea.
  3. Within 1 to 2 weeks, most side effects should begin to fade. In some cases, symptoms may last up to three weeks or more.

It's difficult to determine the exact duration of symptoms. Those with impaired kidney or liver function, taking medications that slow buspirone metabolism, or older adults may experience a longer clearance time.

What Does Withdrawal from Buspar Feel Like?

Buspar works by regulating brain chemicals related to anxiety. Consequently, withdrawal from Buspar can feel like the return of anxiety symptoms or worse. 

When you stop taking the drug, your body and brain may struggle to adjust to pre-medication levels. Your withdrawal may vary based on the following:

  • The severity of your anxiety
  • How long you’ve been taking Buspar (If you took it for over six months, the withdrawal process might be more intense5)
  • The dosage
  • If you do it under medical supervision

People with kidney or liver issues, who are on medications that affect buspirone metabolism, or who frequently consume alcohol may be at a higher risk of experiencing buspirone withdrawal symptoms.

Coping Strategies for Buspirone Withdrawal Symptoms

If you're starting to experience withdrawal symptoms, there are things you can do to cope.

coping strategies for buspirone withdrawal symptoms
  • Talk to your doctor: If symptoms become too intense, ask your doctor for help.
  • Take time tapering off the medication: Gradually reduce your dosage instead of suddenly stopping it.
  • Ease stress: Take a warm bath, listen to music, meditate, or practice yoga for relaxation.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise helps reduce anxiety and stress by releasing endorphins.
  • Sleep: Get plenty of rest during buspirone withdrawal, as poor sleep can worsen symptoms.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush toxins out of your body.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eat nutritious foods to help keep your body and mind healthy.
  • Take supplements: Certain vitamins and minerals can help reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms from anxiety medications, such as magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B complex.
  • Seek professional help: Talk to a mental health professional if you struggle with persistent withdrawal symptoms. They’ll be able to offer treatment and support.

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How to Safely Wean Off Buspar

When it comes to discontinuing buspirone, there are different approaches based on the duration and dosage of the medication. If you have been on a lower dose or taken it briefly, quitting suddenly may be an option.

However, if you've been on a higher dose or taken it for an extended period (6 months or more), doctors advise gradually reducing the dosage over a few days or weeks. This approach helps minimize withdrawal symptoms and potential side effects.

In any case, consult your doctor and follow their instructions. They may recommend a slow dosage reduction over several weeks or switch you to an alternative medication before stopping it entirely.

What to Do When You Skip a Day of Buspar

If you miss a dose of Buspar, take it as soon as you remember. Unless it's close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed one and continue your regular schedule.

Don't double up on doses to make up for a skipped one. Doing so may increase the risk of side effects and even lead to an overdose. Signs of an overdose include:6

  • Constricted pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stomach discomforts like nausea or vomiting

If you frequently forget to take your medication, talk to your doctor about strategies that can help improve your adherence. They may suggest setting a reminder on your phone or taking the drug at the same time each day.

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Are There Permanent Side Effects from Buspar?

No known issues or complications are associated with using buspirone for extended periods. When taken as prescribed, this medication is both safe and reliable.7

During a 52-week study, long-term use of buspirone revealed no new or unexpected side effects compared to shorter treatment durations.5 Additionally, discontinuing buspirone following six months of treatment didn't result in rebound effects or withdrawal syndrome.

Does Buspar Change the Brain?

Currently, there's no clear evidence that buspirone changes the brain permanently. 

Buspirone helps your brain feel calmer. It does this by changing how it reacts to a chemical called serotonin, helping you feel less anxious and more stable in your moods.

Buspirone modulates serotonin receptors and works as an agonist (activating a receptor to produce a biological response) on 5-HT1A receptors. This process helps stabilize mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.

Buspirone boosts the levels of the following:8

  • Dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation)
  • Free serotonin (a neurotransmitter associated with happiness, satisfaction, and optimism)
  • Noradrenaline (a hormone responsible for alertness)

However, this drug doesn't impact:

  • Adrenaline (a hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response)
  • Platelet serotonin (involved in clotting)
  • Tryptophane (a component of serotonin)

Buspar's effect on the brain is temporary and should wane off within days or weeks of discontinuing the drug. It's important to note that a doctor should monitor any changes in your mental state and adjust your dosage accordingly.


Buspirone is an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for reducing anxiety symptoms. However, if you decide to quit taking it, talk to your doctor first. Your healthcare provider can develop a safe treatment plan considering the duration, dosage, and potential side effects.

Buspar withdrawal symptoms usually only last a few days in most cases and can include nausea, insomnia, agitation, and confusion. If symptoms persist longer than a few weeks, contact your doctor. They may switch you to another medication or taper your dose more slowly.

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Updated on July 27, 2023
8 sources cited
Updated on July 27, 2023
  1. Wilson et al. “Buspirone.” StatPearls, 2023.
  2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. “Buspirone (Oral Route).” Mayo Clinic, 2023.
  3. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. “BuSpar.” Food and Drug Administration, 2010.
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Buspirone.” PubChem, 2023.
  5. Rakel, R.E. “Long-term buspirone therapy for chronic anxiety: A multicenter international study to determine safety.” Southern Medical Journal, 1990.
  6. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. “Buspirone (Oral Route) Proper Use.” Mayo Clinic, 2023.
  7. National Alliance on Mental Illness and American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists. “Buspirone.” NAMI, 2023.
  8. Lechin et al. “Effects of buspirone on plasma neurotransmitters in healthy subjects.” Journal of Neural Transmission, 1998.

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