Buspirone Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

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.

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.

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author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings

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