Is BuSpar good for social anxiety disorder?

What is BuSpar

BuSpar is the trade name of buspirone, a newer anxiolytic drug included in the class of azapirones. FDA approved this medication to be used in the treatment of:

  • anxiety disorders

  • symptoms of anxiety such as:

  • racing heart

  • dizziness

  • agitation

  • fear

  • motor tension

  • feeling jittery

  • sweating

  • sleep problems

There also are clinical trials that indicate positive results in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mild forms of cerebellar ataxia.

How does BuSpar work

The way BuSpar works has not been exactly established yet. It is believed that BuSpar plays a similar role as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain and reducing dopamine.

Doctors generally decide to prescribe BuSpar for social anxiety because:

  • a previous treatment with SSRIs failed

  • the patient is prone to become addictive to benzodiazepines

  • is a short term option for relieving anxiety symptoms

  • is well tolerated

  • is less sedating

  • does not develop psychological or physical dependence

  • does not provoke major withdrawal effects

  • is safer for patients with risk of bleeding

BuSpar needs to be taken according to the doctor’s prescription. For anxiety, the usual dose starts with 7.5 mg twice a day, and can be increased up to 60 mg per day. The medication is available in tablets that can be taken with or without food. Once you decided the way you prefer taking the pill, stick to it each time. BuSpar has a slow onset, taking up to 2 weeks before noticing any changes.

The BuSpar Dividose form comes with scored marks that allow splitting the tablet into smaller doses.

The treatment with BuSpar usually does not exceed 3-4 weeks, only your doctor is entitled to decide if you can continue with this medication.

Common side effects of BuSpar

Most patients react well and they do not deal with serious side effects. However, they might experience one, two side effects at most.

  • dizziness

  • nausea

  • insomnia

  • headaches

  • feeling nervous

  • weight gain

  • feeling drowsy

  • upset stomach

Rare reactions

  • uncontrolled movements of tongue, mouth, or arms

  • blurred vision

  • tremors

  • stiffness in muscles

  • dry mouth

  • nightmares

  • ear tingling

  • excessive weakness

  • mask like face

  • genitourinary dysfunctions

  • bleeding

  • chest pain

  • shortness of breath

These reactions occur rarely but if they happen, an immediate medical assistance is required.


  • hepatic or renal impairments require special attention because the half-life of BuSpar is about 3 hours

  • alcohol amplifies side effects

  • activities that involve mental alertness and driving may be affected

  • BuSpar interacts with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) causing highly increased blood pressure; it should be 14 days at least distance between the administration of the two drugs

  • the consume of grapefruit juice should be avoided because enables unwanted effects like drowsiness

  • there is no solid evidence about BuSpar safety for pregnant women or during breastfeeding so, always ask for your doctor’s opinion

  • it is not recommended for persons with seizure disorders

  • vitamin supplements, herbal remedies, and various OTC medicines may interact with BuSpar

  • people with hereditary blood disorders (porphyria) or galactose intolerance should not use BuSpar

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to BuSpar

  • breathing difficulties

  • face and throat swelling

  • severe skin irritation

  • itching sensation

Studies about BuSpar effectiveness

Most clinical trials about BuSpar were focused on patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) that coexists with depressive episodes, and showed encouraging improvements regarding the anxiety symptoms. Despite that, there is a study made on 264 persons, who were on BuSpar for one year, which revealed no significant results on patients’ condition; therefore the administration of this medication for long periods of time requires periodically reevaluation about its utility.


BuSpar is used to treat recurrent episodes of anxiety being the first non-benzodiazepine prescribed in the treatment of GAD.

It has a safer profile concerning addiction than benzodiazepines in the case of long term treatment, fewer withdrawal symptoms and tolerable side effects. It is also used to counterbalance the SSRIs adverse effects related to sexual dysfunctions.

BuSpar has a slow action and is effective against anxiety signs in short term use; as a consequence is not considered a first-line treatment for social anxiety.