SUMAYYA
03 September 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
zolpidem-for-anxiety
Table of Contents

Ambien is a prescription medication used to treat Insomnia. Introduced in 1992, Ambien was the first non-benzodiazepine receptor agonist released in the United States. It has been used off-label to treat migraine headaches, Anxiety, and various neurologic conditions. 

Ambien, a CNS depressant, may result in a drugged feeling and even euphoria. When Ambien is overused or misused, it can result in symptoms that make someone appear intoxicated, including dizziness, lightheadedness, slurred speech, loss of motor control, and other symptoms.

Although Ambien has been used to treat Anxiety, there is limited evidence; rebound Anxiety is a common feature associated with sudden withdrawal from the drug.

What is Zolpidem?

Zolpidem, marketed under the brand name, Ambien, is a medication used to treat Insomnia in adults. It is a sedative-hypnotic.
Zolpidem preferentially binds the omega-1 receptor subtype (benzodiazepine-1subtype), which corresponds to GABA-A receptors containing the alpha-1 sub-unit. It slows your brain and makes you fall asleep and stay asleep. 

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Zolpidem, an imidazopyridine derivative, is a short-acting hypnotic agent. It is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it has a potential for Abuse. 

The recommended dose for adults is 10 mg once daily before bedtime. It is available in conventional tablets, sublingual tablets, or oral sprays.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or threat; it keeps us alert and focused on the action if needed. It is the Fight or Flight response. When we feel danger, the brain sends messages to the nervous system and releases adrenaline. 

A surge of adrenaline raises the feeling of alertness and energy, preparing us to attack (fight) or escape (flight). Increased adrenaline can also have unpleasant side effects or uncomfortable physical sensations. These include:  

  •  Increased heart rate     
  •  Muscular tension
  •  Sweating
  •  Trembling
  •  Feelings of breathlessness

Anxiety disorders can significantly impact the quality of life and are associated with the following:

  • Impaired social and occupational functioning;
  • An increased risk of suicide;      
  • Comorbidity with other disorders

Can Zolpidem Help with Anxiety?

Zolpidem (Ambien) is a sedative and hypnotic that calms and slows brain activity to induce sleep. Insomnia usually occurs either with or shortly after the onset of an Anxiety disorder.

Zolpidem improves sleep and next-day symptoms in comorbid Insomnia and generalized Anxiety disorder. Ambien has a relaxing and calming effect on people with high levels of apprehension. 

Ambien Withdrawal And Anxiety

Ambien has a high potential for abuse, and when stopped, many people suffer from rebound insomnia and Anxiety. Taking Ambien for an extended period can make people dependent on it.

Ambien acts on GABA receptors, thus alleviating Anxiety and reducing stress. The drug slows the central nervous system to induce relaxation, so if someone stops taking Ambien, they may experience Anxiety. 

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and depend on factors such as:

  • How long have you used Ambien?
  • What dose have you been taking?

Mild symptoms include Insomnia and restlessness. These symptoms may interfere with your day-to-day activities.
Severe withdrawal symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, sweating, muscle cramps, severe Anxiety, and nervousness. 

People also experience tremors, lightheadedness, panic attacks, or even seizures. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 48 hours after your last dose and resolve within a week or two.

Managing Anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for Anxiety. It helps you understand how your thinking affects Anxiety and sometimes causes it.

Relaxation therapy involves meeting a trained therapist for one hour a week over three months. You will learn how to relax your muscles in situations that make you anxious.

Other medications for Anxiety

The main medications used to treat Anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and benzodiazepines.

SSRIs and SNRIs belong to a class of drugs called “antidepressants,” which treat Anxiety disorders and depression. The SSRIs currently available are fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, paroxetine, citalopram, and escitalopram.

Venlafaxine helps to treat generalized Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, and social phobia.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: These are highly effective for the treatment of Anxiety. E.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine

Benzodiazepines: These medications reduce Anxiety and excessive excitement and make people feel quiet and calm. They are often used to treat generalized Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social Anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. E.g., clonazepam, alprazolam, and lorazepam. 

Doctors treating Anxiety disorders will usually prescribe an SSRI or an SNRI. If this does not provide adequate relief, other treatment options are available.

Physicians often prescribe beta blockers to treat tremors and slow heart rate and anticholinergics for sweating in addition to an SSRI or SNRI.

Buspirone in adequate doses is a helpful monotherapy in GAD. It treats fear, tension, irritability, dizziness, and other physical symptoms.

Bottom Line Form Practical Anxiety Solutions

Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with your daily life activities. If left untreated, it can last for a long time. At times these are the most challenging to treat. There are several effective treatments available. Behavioral and lifestyle changes can make a difference in managing the condition. An active lifestyle and balanced diet can keep your anxious emotions within healthy limits. 

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