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If you’re having difficulty with symptoms related to anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition, we’re here to help. At Brightside, we want to make sure you have the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment options—whether it is starting a new medicine, therapy, or both.
In some cases, we may prescribe a medicine called gabapentin to add to medications you are already taking. By understanding this medicine and how it affects your body, you can work together with your doctor to figure out if it’s the best treatment for you.
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Stanford-trained Psychiatrist with 25 years of practice
What’s included in a Brightside Medication Membership:
Start with a clinically-proven set of questions to shed light on how you’re feeling. We’ll help you understand your symptoms, then recommend the best treatment plan for you–including medication, therapy, or both.
Get matched with an expert provider for an online video consultation. Share how you’re feeling and then decide on next steps–together.
If prescribed, your medication will be delivered to your door monthly.
Stay in touch with with unlimited messaging, plus monthly video sessions with your Therapist and unlimited video consults with your Psychiatric Provider.
Then measure your progress with regular check-ins to monitor your symptoms and make adjustments until your treatment is right for you.
Gabapentin is an oral medicine that we may prescribe to treat certain anxiety or depression disorders. We may also use this medication to treat nerve pain.
Gabapentin is a synthetic version of the neurotransmitter GABA, which means it mimics the role GABA has in the body. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells. The GABA neurotransmitter can help slow down neurons firing in the brain. Gabapentin works in a similar way; it can help quiet the brain and decrease pain transmission in your nerves.
Doctors and scientists initially developed gabapentin to treat seizures and a nerve pain condition called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). However, because it calms neurons in the brain, we sometimes prescribe it for certain anxiety or depression disorders.
At Brightside, we use gabapentin alongside other medicines to treat:
Doctors may also prescribe gabapentin for other off-label uses, including treating pain caused by diabetes, migraines, and hot flashes.
When you use gabapentin with other medicines, it can help you with low mood, anxiety, and being unable to let go of worries.
Gabapentin can also help you with:
We understand many patients wonder whether a certain medicine will work for them. It’s common, and unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer.
Many different factors influence how you respond to medication. And some medicines work better for certain people than others. Because each person is different—genetics, age, and gender, among other differences—your response to medication may be different from someone else’s response. Other factors, such as underlying health conditions, other medications, and dietary considerations, can also play a role in how medication helps your symptoms.
At Brightside, we can help you find the right medicine and find the right treatment to help you feel better.
Before starting a new medicine like gabapentin, it’s important to get a comprehensive health assessment from a doctor or provider who understands your health history. You should only take gabapentin if a physician or other qualified psychiatric provider prescribed it for you.
It will take about a week before you start feeling the effects of gabapentin. However, it’s important to continue taking your medication even if you don’t feel improvement right away. In some cases, your doctor may need to adjust your dosage for you to get the maximum benefit from the medicine. At Brightside, our board-certified physicians will closely monitor your progress to make sure this medication and dosage are right for you.
We understand that mental health concerns often can’t wait, so if you need to meet with a provider right away to discuss a new or existing medicine, Brightside offers same-day consultation and telehealth services.
Before taking a depression or anxiety medication, you may have concerns about how long you’ll need to continue the medicine. And in some cases, you may want to stop taking the medicine once you start to feel better.
The amount of time you need to take gabapentin will depend on your diagnosis and specific symptoms. Some people may only need to take gabapentin for a short period of time or as needed. However, others may need to take it long-term. Remember that your treatment may take longer if you need to switch doses or medications, add additional medications, or if your anxiety or depression doesn’t respond to treatment.
Your Brightside team will work with you to determine what course of treatment is best for your specific needs. Most importantly, we recommend that you keep taking your medicine until your doctor says it’s time to stop – even after you start to feel better.
Although we need more research to study the effects of gabapentin on mental health conditions, some studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders and social anxiety.
However, keep in mind that taking gabapentin on its own may not help your anxiety or depression symptoms. Most people will take gabapentin with other anxiety or depression medication, such as Zoloft (sertraline) and hydroxyzine.
We understand that you may have some concerns about how gabapentin affects you, but you don’t have to worry about gabapentin changing your personality. The goal of this treatment is to help you feel better – like yourself again – and restore your good mental health. But remember, it doesn’t happen overnight. Keep taking your medication as prescribed, and talk to us if you have any questions or concerns.
Gabapentin is a safe medication, but it’s important to talk with your Brightside team about potential side effects of this treatment. A small number of adults and children (approximately 1/500 people) who take anticonvulsants like gabapentin experience suicidal thoughts during treatment.
You’ll probably experience drowsiness after taking gabapentin, so it’s best to take it before you go to bed.
You may also experience other side effects from gabapentin, but they are usually temporary. Be sure to talk to your doctor if any of these side effects become severe or don’t go away:
In rare cases, gabapentin can also cause severe side effects. Call a doctor right away if you experience:
Your Brightside team will prescribe you gabapentin to help you feel better. Once you start to feel these positive effects, you may want to stop taking the medicine. However, in most cases, gabapentin contributes to these good feelings, and stopping the medicine could cause your anxiety or depression to come back.
It’s important to continue your prescription and talk to your doctor about any changes you’d like to make. If you stop taking gabapentin suddenly, you could experience withdrawal symptoms like:
If you would like to stop taking gabapentin, make sure to talk to your doctor or Brightside team. We can help you manage withdrawal symptoms safely.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication. At Brightside, we can also help you weigh the pros and cons of continuing your medication while pregnant.
Some studies suggest using gabapentin during pregnancy may contribute to complications such as low birth weight and premature delivery (delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Although there is minimal risk of birth defects, there may be safer ways to manage your symptoms while you’re pregnant.
Because gabapentin can pass into breast milk, it’s also important to talk to your doctor if you plan to breastfeed. You and your doctor can develop a plan to manage your symptoms and feed your baby safely.
Gabapentin is not addictive and is not a controlled substance, but if you have concerns about your dependence on this medicine, don’t hesitate to talk to your Brightside team.
You can view the FDA black box warning for Gabapentin here. If you have questions about whether the black box warning for gabapentin applies to you, please talk to your doctor.
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