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If your anxiety has begun to affect your work and relationships, or if it has manifested itself in panic attacks, it may be time to seek medication. Xanax is commonly prescribed to treat generalized anxiety and panic disorders when used with psychotherapy.
However, it is not a definitive treatment. Xanax is prescribed for short-term use because of its addictive nature. For this reason, it is classified as a controlled substance.
What does Xanax feel like?
Xanax is the brand name of a generic drug called alprazolam. Xanax belongs to a group of prescription medications called benzodiazepines (benzos for short), which include other medications such as Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam).
Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the brain and central nervous system (CNS). Taking Xanax does not cause a high like some drugs. When the central nervous system calms down, people with depression, anxiety, and panic disorders experience a calming effect that helps relieve their symptoms.
Xanax is prescribed to patients with the following symptoms:
- Anxiety states, and neuroses, accompanied by feelings of anxiety, anger, worry, tension, sleep disturbance, irritability, and somatic disorders;
- Mixed anxiety-depressive states
- Neurotic reactive-depressive states, accompanied by a decrease in mood, loss of interest in the environment, anxiety, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, and somatic disorders
- Anxiety disorders and neurotic depression developed on the background of somatic diseases;
- Panic disorders in combination with and without phobia symptoms.
How long does Xanax last?
Although it starts working quickly, the effects of Xanax wear off quickly, after about five hours. Therefore, it is usually taken several times a day.
The standard dose of Xanax for adults with anxiety disorders is 0.25-0.5 mg three times a day, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The standard dose of Xanax for adults with panic disorders is 0.5 mg taken three times daily to start. The dosage is slowly increased as needed. Although dosage can vary widely and is generally higher in panic disorders, the lowest effective dose should be used.
Xanax XR is an extended-release version of Xanax that only needs to be taken once a day. Xanax and Xanax XR are essentially the same medicine and only differ in how long they work. They have the same side effects and treat the same conditions, such as anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression.
Xanax XR remains effective in the body for up to 11 hours. Patients take Xanax XR only once a day because it lasts longer than Xanax.
How long does Xanax stay in your system?
The time it takes for the amount of medication to be reduced by half in your body is called the half-life. Even though the dose wears off relatively quickly, the half-life of Xanax is about 11 hours. On the other hand, the half-life of Xanax XR can be up to 15 hours. Many factors can affect the half-life of Xanax, including:
Age: Younger people metabolize Xanax faster than older adults. Xanax may have a shorter half-life for them.
Race: Studies show that the half-life of Xanax is 15-25% longer in Asians than in Caucasians.
Weight: Xanax tends to last longer for people who are overweight because the body has to work harder to process the drug.
Metabolism: A fast metabolism means that the body processes Xanax faster, reducing the amount of time it is effective. Underlying medical conditions, such as liver disease, can affect your body's ability to metabolize drugs like Xanax.
Dose: Higher doses of Xanax will be effective for a longer period, increasing its half-life.
Expired medication Xanax may expire in two to three years.
Medications that can potentially affect the half-life of Xanax include:
- Nizoral (ketoconazole), an antifungal;
- Sporanox (itraconazole), antifungal;
- Luvox (fluvoxamine), an SSRI used to treat OCD;
- Serzona (nefazodone), an antidepressant;
- E.S. (erythromycin), an antibiotic.
This list of medications is not exhaustive. Your healthcare provider can provide you with a complete list of medications that may interact negatively with Xanax.