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Xanax Side Effects

author image Hannah Rice Myers
Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.
Xanax Side Effects
Xanax Side Effects Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

For those who suffer from anxiety disorders such as panic anxiety or anxiety caused by depression, your doctor may prescribe Xanax to help relieve you of the symptoms you experience. Xanax belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers. When the chemicals of the brain overreact, causing anxiety, the benzodiazepine works by slowing this activity down. A number of side effects accompany this drug, ranging from mild to serious.

Expected Side Effects

According to eMedTV.com, the most commonly reported side effects of Xanax occur in 32 to 76 percent of patients taking it. These side effects are typically not dangerous to your health and should subside over a period of time. They include drowsiness, lack of coordination, memory problems and fatigue. You may also find yourself becoming more irritable or experiencing an increase in your appetite.

Additional Common Side Effects

Certain medications cause side effects that do not occur as frequently as the above-mentioned, yet still fall under the common side effects category. For Xanax, these side effects include problems communicating effectively, confusion, having unusual dreams, constipation and nasal congestion. You may also have a difficult time urinating, suffer from a dry mouth, become more talkative than usual or suffer from a decrease in appetite. Women may experience menstrual problems.

Sexual Side Effects

Xanax can cause sexual side effects that fall under the common category as well. These side effects include a change in libido (sexual desire) and erectile dysfunction in men.

According to eMedTV.com, more than 14 percent of those taking Xanax reported a decreased sexual drive while more than 7 percent reported an increase. Impotence reportedly occurs in 7 percent of patients. While your doctor cannot predict whether these side effects will affect you, speak to him immediately if they do. He may be able to adjust the dose or choose to change your medication.

Problems With Weight Gain

Weight gain is considered one of the most common side effects of Xanax, as during its clinical trials 27 percent of patients taking this medication for panic disorder gained weight. As stated by eMedTV.com, the risk of weight gain appeared lower for patients taking Xanax for other types of anxiety disorders, however this may be due to panic disorder requiring a higher dose of the drug to achieve treatment efficacy.

Reportable Side Effects

Serious side effects are considered to be reportable because they may pose a health risk to you. According to Drugs.com, if you experience one or more serious side effects, you need to call your doctor immediately. These include depression or a worsening of your condition, light-headedness, infrequent urination, reduced inhibitions or having no fear of risky situations, feelings of hostility or agitation, experiencing hallucinations and seizures. You also need to watch for signs of jaundice, a condition caused by liver damage. These signs include a yellowing of your skin or eyes.

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