Gabitril: A Unique & Special Anxiety Medication
Years ago Prozac came to town and it had a radical effect in treating Major Depression, which has a suicide rate of 15%. Prozac offered a new safer treatment option. While it is now a household name and the foundation of joking, its addition has made a radical contribution to saving lives. And Prozac's success has led other companies to produce other cleaner and useful medications in its class.
Gabitril is similarly a major revolution in medical care. It is the first GABA reuptake inhibitor. Meaning, GABA is the anti-anxiety chemical between nerves. Gabitril allows your own GABA to linger in between neurons longer for a fuller effect.
Why do I think this medication has such great promise?
- It was approved by FDA in 1997 for seizures and has been used in youths at high doses for years, e.g., 50 mg per day.
- Many follow up studies have been done and it has yet to show any major safety problems, even in the children it was used on for severe seizures who were often on multiple strong medications.
- It has no major drug interactions. However, people taking the blood thinner coumadin will need to watch for dosage adjustment, and Serzone has a mild interaction, which will require slower dosing of Gabitril. Its use with other seizure medications will require some monitoring of drug levels.
- It has no addiction problems to date.
- It decreases anxiety as I have published on this site, and many others have also seen in clinical practice.
- If it is taken with food and dosed slowly, e.g., in 1-mg. increases, with most or all given in the late evening, the side effect incidence is almost nothing. On an empty stomach or at 2-4 mg increases some experience transient sedation or nausea. All new increases should be given in the evening till you get used to it.
- It may not be useful in OCD, which is considered a serotonin anxiety disorder, but I have found it useful in ALL other anxiety disorders.
- It has been tolerated in youth, the elderly and those with frail bodies. Of course if someone has major liver damage and massive liver enzyme increases, doses would need to be very low.
- My patients have reported a better quality of sleep and some feel this may be due to unique effects on parts of the sleep cycle involved in restorative sleep. Some of my patients report this improved sleep in 2 days and others in 3 weeks.
- Addiction is usually found with anxiety. Gabitril offers a unique non-addictive option for sleep problems, cravings and anxiety.
- It has no sexual side effects.
- I have never seen any weight gain.
- Gabitril can improve the benefits of other medications, if needed, since it has almost no interactions.
- It is reasonably priced. Something rarely seen in a patented medication.
- My colleagues who work with brain-injured elderly and children with mental retardation, report good experiences with it in curbing agitation. Many of the medications used for agitation are merely fair and have many side effects.
Wishing You Much Health!
Dr. James Schaller