Xanax (generic name: alprazolam) is chemically, benzodiazepine which is known to regulate the unbalanced chemicals present in the brain that may be causing anxiety. The effect of Xanax calms down the electrical excitement in the brain which imparts a sense of euphoria to the user. Xanax has been approved for treatment of anxiety and related disorders and is available in tablet form and extended release. Often anxiety is linked to depression and doctor often prescribes Xanax for manic depression too. Since ever, the debate regarding whether anti-anxiety drugs (such as Xanax) alleviate or elevate depression is on fire and it becomes solely the decision of physician to prescribe Xanax for depression or not depending upon the individual’s conditions.
Does Xanax work for depression?
To understand the link between Xanax and depression, bring your ears to the physiology of depression and mechanism of action of Xanax.
Depression is a state of mind and body when there is an increased production or absorption of an important mood-regulating chemical in the brain called serotonin. Now this unbalance is the root cause of depressed state which is accompanied by brain’s low activity, constant lethargic feeling and lack of motivation to perform daily tasks.
Xanax, on the other hand, is itself a depressant that relieves from anxiety by depressing central nervous system, thereby imparting a calming effect to the person taking it. This mechanism might work for treatment of anxiety but not for depression because the physiological conditions that Xanax creates in the body are similar to that of a depressed state.
So, an already depressed person with low activity and in addition of Xanax’s action it can further worsen user’s condition as too low state can actually be dangerous for the brain.
Why some doctors prescribe Xanax for depression?
Prescribing Xanax for depression is generally discouraged unless potential benefits outweigh risks since prolonged low activity state of the brain makes it struggle to be in a normal state. In such situations, the risk of falling into coma, having impaired kidney, liver or other body organs is significantly increased.
The person may also become susceptible to permanent brain damage and other adverse effects such as insomnia, hypersomnia, abnormal fluctuations in appetite, suicidal thought, irritability and restlessness and so on depending upon the dosage of Xanax taken.
However, there is one possible condition when Xanax can be prescribed: if the depression is due to direct effect of any anxiety disorder since one of the symptoms (in fact side effect) of anxiety disorder may be short term or long term depression. So hitting the cause is one thing that will probably be considered by the physician while deciding if Xanax is to be prescribed for depression or not.
Final verdict on using Xanax for depression
It is quite contradictory how an anti-anxiety drug can actually treat one of the side effects of anxiety, which is depression. Therefore, no generalized statement can be claimed regarding if Xanax prescription for depression is a good option or not. Using it without a doctors prescription may cause Xanax addiction. The health care provider will have to first consider the signs, symptoms and cause of depression and analyze the possible outcomes of administering Xanax. It would be good if both anxiety and depression can be cured by Xanax without adding on to miseries.