Neurontin (Gabapentin): Facts, Uses, and Side-Effects

What is Neurontin?

Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, is a common drug taken by millions to relieve generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder, nerve pain, seizures, and insomnia. In 2016 alone, there were 64 million prescriptions dispensed across the U.S., up from 39 million in 2012.

People with GAD who take Neurontin are typically less irritable, have less depressive symptoms, and have less anxiety regarding future events and being in public. The medication is commonly prescribed off-label for anxiety and depression. When doctors prescribe this medication off-label, they are prescribing it for conditions other than the ones for which it has been officially approved (seizures and nerve pain).

How to use Neurontin

Neurontin is taken by mouth with or without food at regular intervals to keep the amount of medicine in your body at a constant interval. The dosage and the form of Neurontin you're prescribed varies based on medical assessment of your condition and response to treatment after it begins. Different forms of the drug are absorbed by your body differently.

As with all medications, it's important to follow your doctor's instructions to a T. Your dosage may start out smaller and ramp up as your doctor eases you into the medication to allow your body to adjust. The first dose is typically taken at bedtime to minimize side effects. Suddenly stopping the medicine may worsen your conditions or cause dangerous breathing problems.

Side Effects

If these symptoms are severe or persist, please consult your doctor.

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Fever
  • Memory loss
  • Double vision
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Tremor
  • Jerky movements

Severe symptoms may be a sign of an allergic reaction require immediate medical treatment:

  • Swelling (fact, throat, tongue, lips, eyes)
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Hives

Side effects likely to occur in children:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory Problems
  • Acting restless or aggressive

Other side effects not listed may occur. Always consult your doctor if you have concerns about unusual problems. In case of overdose, please call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the individual has a seizure, has collapsed, or has trouble breathing, please call 911.

Neurontin Best Practices

Before taking Neurontin, please let your doctor know if you've ever had any lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, kidney disease, depression, heart disease, or liver disease.

Since Neurontin can be prescribed to children 3 and older, stay alert for any changes in mood or behavior. For pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding, please let your doctor know and ask about any risk.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can, unless the timing is too close to your next dose. Do not take two doses in a single sitting.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine affects you. One of the side effects is dizziness or drowsiness, which may cause falls or accidents.

Drug Interactions

Neurontin, if combined with opioids and certain other drugs, can cause dangerous breathing problems. The elderly and those with existing lung problems should especially be careful to look out for breathing problems.

Be careful when taking Neurontin with the following drugs:

  • Sleeping pills
  • Cold or allergy medication
  • Muscle relaxer
  • Other medicines for seizures

Please always consult your healthcare provider for your personal circumstances in addition to the information displayed on this page.

If you don't already have a mental health provider, Cerebral has a large network of mental health providers available now for appointments.

  • If you are in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help:

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
    Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line:
    Text Home to 741-741
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