Warning: Right now, Gabapentin is approved in the United States to treat seizures. There are not a lot of comprehensive studies that look at Gabapentin as a way to treat anxiety, mood disorders or tardive dyskinesia. Even though there are studies in the works, what experts know about Gabapentin for the purpose of controlling anxiety and mood disorders and tardive dyskinesia mostly comes from faulty case reports. There have been double-blind studies done, but they have not proved that Gabapentin works as a mood stabilizer.
1. What Exactly is Gabapentin (Neurontin)?
This particular drug is an anticonvulsant. It is not related chemically to other anti-convulsants or other mood regulating drugs on the market.
2. When Did the FDA Approve Gabapentin for marketing in the United States? How Can It Be Promoted?
On December 30, 1993, Gabapentin got final approval, which meant that it could be marketed in the United States. It is only marketed as an anticonvulsant. However, it has also been used for restless leg syndrome, pain issues, hot flashes, tremors, and a wide variety of psychiatric disorders.
3. Is There a Generic Version of Gabapentin Available?
Since its manufacturer no longer has patent protection on the drug, there are generic versions of Gabapentin on the market.
4. What is the Difference Between Gabapentin and Other Mood Stabilizing Medications?
There are two major ways that Gabapentin differs from similar drugs on the market:
- Gabapentin has been proven to be effective for people who have hard-to-treat depression or other mood disorders
- The side effects are relatively minor
5. How is Gabapentin Different From Valproate and Carbamazepine?
There are claims that Gabapentin was successful in helping with rapid cycling and mixed bipolar states in people who have not received relief from valproate or carbamazepine. It appeared that Gabapentin helped more with anxiety and agitation than the other two drugs. It has also been shown that Gabapentin could aid people with certain types of tardive dyskinesia.
6. What Types of Mood and Anxiety Disorders Can Best Be Treated with Gabapentin?
Experts say that it is too early to tell which types of disorders will get the best results from Gabapentin. There are not a lot of reports on Gabapentin’s use. Many experts don’t recommend the use of Gabapentin for mood disorders. There is more data from people who have hard-to-treat bipolar disorder than unipolar depression, although some people with unipolar disorder have gotten good results from Gabapentin. In time, it can be proven that Gabapentin can be used to treat a variety of mood disorders.
7. Can Gabapentin Be Used for the Treatment of Mixed Bipolar States? Can It Prevent Future Episodes of Mania and Depression?
Right now, there isn’t a lot of evidence that Gabapentin can be used for treating people with bipolar disorder.
8. Should a Person Take Any Laboratory Tests Before Taking Gabapentin?
Before a patient starts Gabapentin therapy, they should undergo a thorough medical examination to rule out any medical issues. This includes any blood or urine tests. Medical evaluations are important as issues such as thyroid conditions can undermine the therapy.
9. How Do You Initiate Gabapentin Therapy?
The therapy will be started with 300 mg once a day, usually in the evening. The dose will then be increased every 3 to 5 days. Some people will see an increase with 600 mg/day, others will see increases up to 4,800 mg/day.
10. Are There Potential Interaction Issues for People Taking Carbamazepine, Valproate or Lithium?
No interactions between Gabapentin and valproate, carbamazepine or lithium have been reported.
11. What is the Typical Final Dose That Would Be Prescribed to Someone Taking Gabapentin?
If used as a mood stabilizer or anti-depressant, the final dose is usually between 900 and 2,000 mg a day. However, some patients have been known to need up to 4,800 mg a day to get good results.
Gabapentin has a half-life of about six hours, so it must be administered 3 to 4 times a day.
12. How Long Does It Usually Take for Gabapentin to Work?
Some people see improvement in their antigenic and/or anti-depressant symptoms about a week after starting treatment. Others need about a month before they see significant improvement.
13. What Are Gabapentin’s Side Effects?
- Double Vision
- Nystagmus (involuntary eye movement)
Most people notice side effects the first few days after an increase in their dose. They usually fade after a while.
14. Are There Any Side Effects That Force People to Stop Taking Gabapentin?
The side effects that are most likely to keep people from continuing Gabapentin therapy are the following symptoms:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
15. Are There Any Psychiatric Side Effects That Come From Taking Gabapentin?
There are some rare side effects, which include the following symptoms:
- Decreased libido
- Increased libido
16. Does Gabapentin Interact With Any Other Prescriptions or Over-The-Counter Medications?
There are only a few interaction issues that are known. Antacids have been known to decrease absorption of the drug, as well as lower the blood level by 20%. Gabapentin could also increase the level of concentration of some oral contraceptives by up to 13%. However, these two interaction possibilities are not clinically significant in any way.
17. Are There Any Interaction Issues Between Gabapentin and Alcohol?
Alcoholic beverages have been known to increase the discomfort of Gabapentin’s side effects.
18. Is It Safe For a Woman Who Is Pregnant, About to Become Pregnant, or Nursing to Take Gabapentin?
The FDA placed Gabapentin in pregnancy category C. According to studies done on animals, there was harm done to fetuses. However, there have been no studies done on humans. Despite all this, experts believe that the benefits gained from taking Gabapentin may outweigh its risks.
19. Can Children and Adolescents Safely Take Gabapentin?
In other countries besides the United States, children have been prescribed Gabapentin. However, Gabapentin has only been approved for use in adolescents above the age of 12.
20. Can Elderly People Use Gabapentin?
The elderly seem to experience similar effects to younger people. There isn’t a lot of precedent with using this drug to treat psychiatric disorders in this population.
21. Can Symptoms Occur if Gabapentin is Discontinued?
Like other psychotropic drugs, people should ease off Gabapentin gradually. There are some known withdrawal symptoms. This mostly comes from people who take high doses of the drug and suddenly stop. People should only abruptly discontinue Gabapentin because of a serious side effect.
22. If Taken In Overdose, is Gabapentin Toxic?
There isn’t a lot of data on overdoses. People have been known to survive overdoses of up to 49,000 mg of Gabapentin without serious health consequences.
23. Can This Medication Be Taken with MAO Inhibitors?
This particular combination doesn’t present any special issues.
24. How Much Does Gabapentin Cost?
According to drugstore,com, these figures are the per tablet cost of 100 tablets of generic Gabapentin.
- 100 mg: $1.05
- 300 mg: $1.32
- 400 mg: $2.20
- 600 mg: $3.50
- 800 mg: $7.99
25. Can People Who Received Little Benefit From Other Psychotropic Drugs Get Good Results From Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is mostly used by people with mood or anxiety disorders that have not been adequately treated with other medications.
26. Are There Any Disadvantages to Gabapentin?
There isn’t a lot of available information about side effects. There’s also the fact that Gabapentin’s use with people with mood disorders is relatively new. Because of this fact, it’s not known whether people who initially respond to Gabapentin will continue to do so after years of use.
Because of the short half-life of the medication, people will need to take divided doses throughout the day.
Studies have not been able to prove that Gabapentin is effective as a mood control agent.
This medication can also cause suicidal thinking. This effect is similar to that of other anticonvulsants.
27. Why Do Doctors Prescribe Gabapentin When There Are Other Mood Stabilizing Medications That Have Been Around For Many Years? These Medications Have Been Shown To Be More Effective in Double-Blind Studies That Are Placebo Controlled.
There are two reasons why physicians prescribe Gabapentin over more established drugs. The first reason is that not everyone improves with the older, more established medications. The second is that some people can’t deal with the side effects of the other drugs.
28. Is Gabapentin Available in Countries Other Than the United States?
Yes. Gabapentin is available in over 40 countries.