Any prescription medication is going to have some negative side effects, and Xanax is no different. The purpose of reviewing potential side effects is not to scare you. It is to make you aware, so that if you experience any of the more serious side effects, you can contact your physician to determine if you should switch your medication. As you will see, many of the common side effects are minor.
For example, when taking Xanax, you may experience dizziness, drowsiness, muscle weakness, or increased sweating. Other effects include difficulty sleeping, swelling of the extremities, or gastrointestinal issues like gas, pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you experience more serious side effects, like increased aggression, hallucinations, and a desire to hurt oneself or others, you should call your doctor immediately. Chest pain, fainting, and yellowing of the skin or eyes may reflect a serious condition of the heart or liver. Little to no urination is a potential side effect and can quickly become dangerous since this is a sign that the kidneys are being adversely affected.
Side effects can also be gender specific. For example, Xanax side effects in women can include menstrual issues, while Xanax side effects in men may include sexual dysfunction. One odd side effect that can occur with either men or women is secretion of milk (lactating).
What about the longer term effects of Xanax? Perhaps the most dangerous potential side effect is what is known as a paradoxical reaction. This is when a drug has the opposite effect it is intended to have. For example, someone prescribed Xanax for anxiety may begin to experience more frequent or more extreme feelings of anxiety. This actually can occur right away, but it can also happen after long term use or as dosage is increased.
One last caution with Xanax is that it can be habit forming. For this reason, Xanax is usually prescribed as a temporary solution to a problem with prescriptions lasting no more than 2 months. This is also why Xanax will not usually be prescribed to those with a family or personal history of addiction. Growing tolerance is the most common long term side effect. There are also concerns about the potential for brain atrophy with extended use which makes it vital for individuals not to try and obtain the drug after their prescription has been completed.