Does Xanax Lower Blood Pressure?

November 04 , 2022

Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine medication commonly prescribed for treating generalized anxiety and panic disorder. When used as prescribed, Xanax sufficiently depresses the central nervous system (CNS), leading to a drop in heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, people who take blood pressure or heart medications should likely avoid taking Xanax due to the possibility of negative interactions. This article will examine Xanax’s ability to reduce anxiety symptoms and panic attacks and how it affects vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate.

How Xanax Works

Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that acts by boosting the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter responsible for slowing down brain function and lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Consuming Xanax increases tranquility, induces relaxation, and provides short-term treatment for anxiety symptoms.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Xanax is approved for treating mental health conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorders with or without agoraphobia. Additionally, they are frequently used off-label to treat insomnia and alcohol withdrawal.

Common Side Effects of Xanax

Although Xanax is a highly effective anti-anxiety medication, it’s not without the potential for negative side effects. Xanax’s immediate side effects may include drowsiness and cognitive impairment.
Other common side effects may include:

  • Sedation
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability or depression
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Fluctuations in appetite and weight
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Skin rash
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Difficulty breathing

The above adverse effects are minor and may not require medical attention. However, long-term or excessive Xanax use can cause severe side effects, such as an increased risk of overdose and Xanax addiction.

In addition, people with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, liver or kidney problems, diabetes, or seizures, or who take other medications are more likely to experience a broader range of side effects. Therefore, seeking medical advice from a healthcare professional before Xanax is important.

Can Xanax Lower Your Blood Pressure?

Your blood pressure may increase during a panic attack or a severe anxiety episode. Xanax is effective in treating the psychological effects of anxiety but also its physical symptoms, such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Xanax, like diazepam (Valium) and clonazepam (Klonopin), works by enhancing the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid and inducing relaxation and drowsiness. However, some individuals taking Xanax have experienced tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and heart palpitations (fluttering in the heart). As the body responds to increased anxiety levels, these cardiovascular effects may also occur when a person stops taking Xanax.

If you combine Xanax with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol or opioids, your blood pressure may drop to a life-threatening level. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions when taking Xanax to avoid this situation.

If your blood pressure is too low, your physician may advise you to take a different medication to treat your anxiety. Popular options include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants with anxiolytic properties.

Can Xanax Raise Your Blood Pressure?

In most cases, Xanax does not elevate your blood pressure. However, if you take Xanax for an extended period or abuse it (use it in a way that is not prescribed by your doctor), you may develop a physical dependence on it. This means you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including high blood pressure (hypertension) if you stop taking it.
Other possible Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shakiness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

To avoid or reduce the severity of these withdrawal symptoms, you should talk to your physician before stopping Xanax use. Instead of stopping cold turkey, most doctors advise slowly reducing your dosage. This tactic allows your body to adjust gradually to the lack of Xanax, which can lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax Drug Interactions

When combined with alprazolam, medications that interact with Xanax may reduce its effect, shorten its duration of action, increase side effects, or have no effect. An interaction between two medications doesn’t always require the discontinuation of one of the medications; however, it’s still important to consult with your healthcare provider about how to manage drug interactions.

Medications that may interact with Xanax include:

  • anti-anxiety medications, including other benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam and oxazepam
  • antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, imipramine, nortriptyline
  • anticonvulsants such as valproate
  • antihistamines that cause sedation, such as diphenhydramine
  • cannabis
  • chlormethiazole
  • clozapine

Certain heart and blood pressure medications may interact negatively with Xanax, so inform your healthcare provider of your medical history and any medications you are currently taking. Furthermore, combining Xanax and other benzodiazepines with opioids can increase the risk of serious side effects because both medications cause sedation and suppress breathing, which is frequently the cause of overdose deaths.