Buspirone Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

trusted pharmacists giving a patient information at a pharmacy
Buspirone does not exhibit withdrawal symptoms. However, other anti-anxiety medications have documented risks of abuse, physical dependence, and withdrawal. Many people taking these other medications are able to gradually stop taking them under the guidance of their doctors. 

Share This Post

Buspirone hydrochloride (BuSpar) is an FDA-approved prescription medication that belongs to a class of anti-anxiety agents called anxiolytics.

Buspirone mainly stimulates serotonin receptors and has moderate, mixed effects on dopamine receptors. It can be prescribed for longer-term use. This is in contrast to benzodiazepines, like Ativan or Xanax, that are for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.

Buspirone takes longer to work but has a lower risk of side effects. It also has no known risk of dependence or withdrawal. Benzodiazepines work quicker, but they have higher risks for side effects, dependence, and withdrawal. 

Buspirone is not associated with a risk of dependence or addiction. So it can be a good choice for mental health treatment in people who have a history of substance abuse. 

Interestingly, some clinical trials have found that buspirone can help those suffering from heroin withdrawal, as an alternative to methadone.

Numerous studies have found that buspirone does not cause withdrawal symptoms. This was initially noted in animal studies and then confirmed in studies with humans. But if you are wondering about stopping buspirone therapy…

Who is likely to experience symptoms of buspirone withdrawal?

Buspirone is not known to cause addiction or dependence. That helps to prevent abuse.

One study had patients abruptly discontinue buspirone after 8 weeks of treatment. Another study abruptly discontinued buspirone after more than 6 months of therapy. The authors of both studies did not observe any withdrawal symptoms when they followed up with the patients.

Most people do not need to gradually reduce their dosage of buspirone before stopping it. But don’t stop taking buspirone until talking to your healthcare provider.

Other anxiety medications, including benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam) or Klonopin (clonazepam), need to be gradually reduced to prevent withdrawal.

YouTube player

What are the symptoms of buspirone withdrawal?

Buspirone does not cause withdrawal symptoms. However, many other anti-anxiety medications (like benzodiazepines) can lead to dependence and withdrawal if stopped suddenly.

Anti-anxiety medications act on the chemistry of your brain in order to reduce feelings of anxiety. Don’t stop taking these medications suddenly without speaking with your healthcare provider first.

Common withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Burning or tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle cramps and stiffness
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Central nervous system (CNS) symptoms including abnormal dreams, headache, confusion, or impairment
  • Unusual weakness in the body
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Unusual tiredness

Rarely, withdrawal from buspirone can also cause extreme weakness, chest pain, or loss of consciousness. Get medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

What is the timeline for buspirone withdrawal?

Buspirone does not cause withdrawal. However, other anxiety medications, like benzodiazepines, can cause withdrawal.. 

When you gradually reduce your anti-anxiety medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional, withdrawal symptoms shouldn’t last much longer than a few weeks.

However, taking extremely high doses of the medication may mean you need to taper down more gradually and may experience withdrawal symptoms for several months.

What treatment is available for buspirone withdrawal?

Buspirone does not cause withdrawal.

Generally, anti-anxiety medications should not be stopped abruptly without first consulting with a doctor. The best way to reduce withdrawal symptoms is to gradually reduce your dosage over time, typically over a period of several weeks or months.That allows your body to slowly adjust to the reduced amount of the drug. 

Hypothetically, some people may have increased symptoms of anxiety while stopping their anti-anxiety medication.

In these cases, your doctor may help you taper off the drug more slowly, with increasingly lower doses, over a more prolonged period of time. 


Buspirone does not cause  physical dependence or withdrawal.

But other anxiety medications, like benzodiazepines, can cause withdrawal symptoms. This risk is higher if they are stopped suddenly.

Other prescription drug classes, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants like monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), SSRIs, and SNRIs are also more likely to cause drug dependence than buspirone. 

To be safe, only stop your buspirone (or other anti-anxiety medications) under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

References, Studies and Sources:

Loane C, Politis M. Buspirone: what is it all about?. Brain Res. 2012;1461:111-118. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2012.04.032 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22608068/

Rakel RE. Long-term buspirone therapy for chronic anxiety: a multicenter international study to determine safety. South Med J. 1990;83(2):194-198. doi:10.1097/00007611-199002000-00014 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2406933/

Wilson TK, Tripp J. Buspirone. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; January 17, 2023. Accessed June 22, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531477/

Rabatin J, Keltz LB. Generalized anxiety and panic disorder. West J Med. 2002;176(3):164-168. doi:10.1136/ewjm.176.3.164 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071705/

Papp LA. Anxiety Disorders: Somatic Treatment. In: Sadock BJ, Sadock VA, Kaplan HI, eds. Kaplan & Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. 7th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000. https://www.brown.edu/Courses/BI_278/Other/Teaching%20examples/Brain%20and%20Behavior/articles/anx_tx.pdf

Meyer ML. Which Anti-Anxiety Medication is Right for Me? Texas A&M Today. June 3, 2019. Accessed June 22, 2023. https://today.tamu.edu/2019/06/03/which-anti-anxiety-medication-is-right-for-me

Lader M. Assessing the potential for buspirone dependence or abuse and effects of its withdrawal. Am J Med. 1987;82(5A):20-26. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(87)90199-9  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3296749/

Louvet S, Ischayek M, Danoff R. The Current Role of Long-Term Benzodiazepines for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety. Osteopath Fam Physician. 2015;7(1).         https://ofpjournal.com/index.php/ofp/article/view/364

Gliatto MF. Generalized anxiety disorder. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(7):1591-1602. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2000/1001/p1591.html

Quock RM. Anxiolytics. In: Drugs and Behavior. 2nd ed. Pressbooks; 2022. https://opentext.wsu.edu/biopsychological-effects-alcohol-drugs/chapter/chapter-16-anxiolytics/

Warner CH, Bobo W, Warner C, Reid S, Rachal J. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(3):449-456. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2006/0801/p449.html

Gabriel M, Sharma V. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. CMAJ. 2017;189(21):E747. doi:10.1503/cmaj.160991 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449237/

Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, Reel-Brander C. Efficacy of buspirone in the treatment of opioid withdrawal. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005;25(3):230-236. doi:10.1097/01.jcp.0000162804.38829.97 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15876901/

Rose JS, Branchey M, Wallach L, Buydens-Branchey L. Effects of buspirone in withdrawal from opiates. Am J Addict. 2003;12(3):253-259. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12851021/

Buspirone Hydrochloride Tablet. DailyMed. September 26, 2022. Accessed June 22, 2023. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=3da22999-f5fb-49fd-acde-c3006598e985

Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, Reel-Brander C. Efficacy of buspirone in the treatment of opioid withdrawal. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005;25(3):230-236. doi:10.1097/01.jcp.0000162804.38829.97 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15876901/

Rabatin J, Keltz LB. Generalized anxiety and panic disorder. West J Med. 2002;176(3):164-168. doi:10.1136/ewjm.176.3.164 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071705/

Bourin M, Malinge M. Controlled comparison of the effects and abrupt discontinuation of buspirone and lorazepam. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1995;19(4):567-575. doi:10.1016/0278-5846(95)00102-2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8588056/

Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 4, Withdrawal Management. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/

Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Withdrawal. In: APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Accessed June 22, 2023. https://dictionary.apa.org/sedative-hypnotic-or-anxiolytic-withdrawal. 

Pétursson H. The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Addiction. 1994;89(11):1455-1459. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.1994.tb03743.x https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7841856/

Onyett SR. The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and its management. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1989;39(321):160-163. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2576073/

Bourin M. Une échelle pour évaluer le sevrage induit par les anxiolytiques [A scale for evaluating withdrawal symptoms induced by anxiolytic agents]. Encephale. 1988;14(4):283-285. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2904355/

Lader M. Anxiolytic drugs: dependence, addiction and abuse. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1994;4(2):85-91. doi:10.1016/0924-977x(94)90001-9 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0924977X94900019

Lader M. Benzodiazepine harm: how can it be reduced?. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014;77(2):295-301. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04418.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014015/

Mintzer MZ, Griffiths RR. Flumazenil-precipitated withdrawal in healthy volunteers following repeated diazepam exposure. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005;178(2-3):259-267. doi:10.1007/s00213-004-2009-1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15452683/

de Bard ML. Diazepam withdrawal syndrome: a case with psychosis, seizure, and coma. Am J Psychiatry. 1979;136(1):104-105. doi:10.1176/ajp.136.1.104 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/103443/

Basit H, Kahwaji CI. Clonazepam. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; May 13, 2023. Accessed June 22, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556010/

Lader M, Tylee A, Donoghue J. Withdrawing benzodiazepines in primary care. CNS Drugs. 2009;23(1):19-34. doi:10.2165/0023210-200923010-00002 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19062773/

Brett J, Murnion B. Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Aust Prescr. 2015;38(5):152-155. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2015.055 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/

We are committed to providing our readers with only trusted resources and science-based studies with regards to medication and health information. 

Disclaimer: This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you suspect medical problems or need medical help or advice, please talk with your healthcare professional.

Share This Post

Pharmacists.org Discount Club

Get Started for $1.

  • Cheapest cash pay option at your retail pharmacy
  • 1,000s of drugs below $10.00 that can beat your co-pay
  • Start for $1 for your first month. Cancel anytime. 
  • Tell us your meds, we tell you the cheapest options.

Popular Destinations

Recent Articles

trusted pharmacists giving patient information

Does Taking Effexor Cause Weight Gain?

Taking Effexor may cause weight gain in some patients. Weight gain is a common side effect of Effexor and other antidepressant medications, and more than half of patients on newer classes of antidepressants report experiencing weight gain.

Read More »

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

We review and include products we think are useful for our community. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a commission. For more info, please read our ad policy, content principles and vetting policy.

Read More »

Share On:

More To Explore

Does Taking Effexor Cause Weight Gain?

Taking Effexor may cause weight gain in some patients. Weight gain is a common side effect of Effexor and other antidepressant medications, and more

How Long Does Lexapro Take To Work?

If you are considering taking Lexapro for your depression or anxiety, you might be wondering how long it takes to work.

Zoloft and Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to Zoloft and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

We review and include

What are the signs of Depression?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

Can You Use Gabapentin For Anxiety?

While Neurontin is the most common brand name for gabapentin, other forms (such as Horizant and Gralise) may be prescribed depending on the specific

What is Zoloft?

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side

What is Venlafaxine HCL ER?

The prescription drug belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SNRIs), which are commonly used to treat mental

Using Prozac With Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Prozac can be used to treat many different mental health conditions, is associated with a relatively low risk of side effects, and causes the

How Long Does Clonazepam Stay in Your System?

This fast-acting medication is known for being effective at panic attacks, but how long does clonazepam stay in your system?

What is Sertraline and What are the Side Effects?

Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs like

Turn On, Tune In, and…. Heal Your Brain? Psychedelics Return as Potential Therapy for Mental Health Disorders

Before they fell out of favor over half a century ago, psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin and LSD, were studied for various psychiatric diseases such

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Alprazolam is a fast-acting medication, but exactly how long alprazolam stays in your body varies tremendously based on the form of the medication taken,

Paxil vs Zoloft: Differences, Similarities and Which is Better

When it comes to Paxil vs. Zoloft, which is better?

A Supplement for Stress? The Science Behind Adaptogens

Stress is part of all our lives. Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements studied throughout history as a way to improve the body’s

Does Buspirone Cause Weight Gain?

Many antidepressants can cause weight gain as a side effect. Buspirone may cause an altered appetite as a side effect, which can lead to

Duloxetine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Duloxetine withdrawal is very common and well documented, affecting nearly half of all patients. Common withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and symptoms

Cymbalta vs. Prozac: Comparison Guide

Cymbalta and Prozac are commonly prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. The medications are similarly effective, although one

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

If you use Ativan to manage your health but are curious about how long Ativan lasts in your system, we have all the information

Why is Mental Health Important?

As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health,” but why is mental health so important? The reality is that although we

What is BuSpar? Uses, Costs, Benefits, and Doses

If you’re one of 40 million American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might think that your battle

What are Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics? 

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics have been shown to prevent psychosis relapse in patients with schizophrenia. To combat poor medication adherence, LAIs are a great

Cymbalta vs Effexor: Differences and Side Effects

Effexor and Cymbalta are antidepressants used for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Although both medications are FDA-approved, Effexor and

Celexa vs Lexapro: Which is Better For Depression?

Both are regarded as equally effective drugs for treating depression. Find out the core difference between Celexa vs. Lexpro now!

What is Ativan? Uses, Costs, Benefits, Doses

More than 40 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental illness in the

Lexapro Overdose: Signs, Symptoms, and Precautions

We’ve put together a list of the signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to Lexapro overdose and some of the

Panic Attacks: The Story of an Overpowering Fear

Panic attacks are when you experience a sudden feeling of intense fear with no apparent threat or danger.  This triggers a "fight or flight"

Using Lorazepam with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Using lorazepam with alcohol is incredibly dangerous but can be a common occurrence, and is associated with potentially life-threatening side effects, which are outlined

Using Citalopram with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Mixing antidepressants with alcohol is always potentially dangerous, but using citalopram with alcohol is particularly unsafe due to the high potential for life-threatening side

Brightside Health Review: Is This Depression & Anxiety Care Useful?

Brightside is an online mental healthcare company that provides treatment services for a range of issues related to anxiety and depression. These conditions include