Are you taking, or considering taking, Gabapentin (Neurontin) for a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, neuropathic pain, or another mental health reason? This page provides information on the medication’s benefits, side effects, and other properties.
Type of Medication: Anticonvulsant
Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) is an anticonvulsant, or antiepileptic drug originally introduced for the treatment of epilepsy and partial seizures. Gabapentin also provides an analgesic effect which gives rise to its use in the treatment of neuropathic pain. It is structurally related to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). The actual mechanism of action by which Gabapentin acts in the brain to control seizures and treat pain is not fully understood.
Gabapentin is sold under the trade name Neurontin or Gabarone.
Benefits of Gabapentin (Neurontin) for Mood and Anxiety Disorders and Neuropathic Pain
Although specifically approved only for use in the treatment of epilepsy and post-herpetic neuralgia (pain following shingles), Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) is widely used in the treatment of a variety of neuropathic pain, including peripheral neuropathies, restless leg syndrome, and bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders. It has also been used for the treatment of those suffering from antipsychotic-induced tardive dyskinesia.
Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) may be better tolerated by bipolar individuals who have not responded to drugs such as carbamazepine or valproate, and some may be able to tolerate therapeutic doses of antidepressants when taken in conjunction with Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone), where antidepressants would otherwise have prompted the development of mania or a mixed state.
Side Effects of Gabapentin (Neurontin)
Please note that the following side effects include only some of the most common and somewhat less common but do not include rarer side effects; the list is not exhaustive. Many people taking Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) experience none of these side effects. Please consult a physician about any unusual symptoms.
Some of the more common side effects of Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) when used for the treatment of adults include:
- peripheral edema
- dry mouth
Some of the less common side effects of Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) when used for the treatment of adults include:
- abdominal pain
- weight gain
- abnormal thinking
- blurred vision
Special Note on Antiepileptic Drugs and Suicidality
On 31 January 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a special alert (linked below) on antiepileptic drugs, including Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone), and the risk of suicide:
The FDA has analyzed reports of suicidality (suicidal behavior or ideation) from placebo-controlled clinical studies of eleven drugs used to treat epilepsy as well as psychiatric disorders, and other conditions. These drugs are commonly referred to as antiepileptic drugs (see the list below). In the FDA’s analysis, patients receiving antiepileptic drugs had approximately twice the risk of suicidal behavior or ideation (0.43%) compared to patients receiving placebo (0.22%). The increased risk of suicidal behavior and suicidal ideation was observed as early as one week after starting the antiepileptic drug and continued through 24 weeks. The results were generally consistent among the eleven drugs. Patients who were treated for epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, and other conditions were all at increased risk for suicidality when compared to placebo, and there did not appear to be a specific demographic subgroup of patients to which the increased risk could be attributed. The relative risk for suicidality was higher in the patients with epilepsy compared to patients who were given one of the drugs in the class for psychiatric or other conditions.
All patients who are currently taking or starting on any antiepileptic drug should be closely monitored for notable changes in behavior that could indicate the emergence or worsening of suicidal thoughts or behavior or depression.
This additional information has been provided by the FDA under the heading “Information for patients, family members and caregivers”:
- Taking antiepileptic medicines may increase the risk of having suicidal thoughts or actions;
- Do not make any changes to the medication regimen without first talking with the responsible healthcare professional;
- Pay close attention to any day-to-day changes in mood, behavior and actions. These changes can happen very quickly so it is important to be mindful of any sudden differences.
- Be aware of common warning signs that might be a signal for risk of suicide. Some of these are:
- Talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Becoming depressed or having your depression get worse
- Becoming preoccupied with death and dying
- Giving away prized possessions
See the document “Information for Healthcare Professionals: Suicidality and Antiepileptic Drugs” (linked below) for additional information.
Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Alcohol
The manufacturer recommends avoiding alcohol during treatment with Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone). Alcohol may increase the risk of having side effects — including sleepiness, dizziness, and light-headedness — while taking the drug.
Stopping Gabapentin (Neurontin): Discontinuation Effects or Withdrawal Symptoms
Antiepileptic drugs such as Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) should not be abruptly discontinued because of the possibility of increasing seizure frequency. In clinical trials of Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone), a number of patients experienced status epilepticus despite having had no prior history, but due to the small sample size, it is unknown whether this was specifically caused by treatment with Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone).
Should You Buy Gabapentin (Neurontin) Online?
Particularly in the United States, many individuals choose to purchase medications online, either for reasons of cost savings, privacy, or both. Both brand-name Neurontin and so-called ‘generic Neurontin’ (i.e., Gabapentin without the Neurontin brand name) can sometimes be purchased at deep discounts (and sometimes without a prescription) in this way. Before undertaking any purchase of medications online, however — and certainly if you are contemplating doing so without a prior prescription — please consider the integrity of the supplier and the national and/or local laws which may apply where you live.
For more on the political and safety controversies about buying drugs online (including VIPPS, price-gouging, and more) see our separate site MedsDebate.com.
Information Sources and Disclaimer
The information provided here has been summarized in good faith purely for educational purposes. It is not intended in any way to replace the advice of a qualified medical professional. Please do not take any action on the basis of information contained here without consulting a physician. Unless otherwise specified, information is intended to apply only to adult use of the medication. Drug interaction precautions have not been included; please consult another source for this information.
All registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
- US Food and Drug Administration Special Alert on Antiepileptic Drugs and Suicidality
- FDA Note “Information for Healthcare Professionals: Suicidality and Antiepileptic Drugs”
- FDA-Approved Product Information for Neurontin
- US National Library of Medicine
- Medication Reference Materials
- Drug Information by Generic Name
- Alprazolam (Xanax) for Anxiety, Panic Disorder or Agoraphobia
- Atomoxetine (Strattera) for ADHD
- Bupropion, or Amfebutamone (Wellbutrin, Zyban) for Depression, Bipolar, and Smoking Cessation
- Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil, Seropram) for Depression
- Clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril) for Anxiety
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex) for Depression or Anxiety
- Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) for Depression, Anxiety, Bulimia
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Faverin) for OCD
- Gabapentin (Neurontin) for Mood and Anxiety Disorders and Neuropathic Pain
- Guanfacine (Tenex, Estulic, Dipresan) for ADHD and Social Anxiety
- Medication List With Brand Names
- Nefazodone (Serzone, Dutonin) for Depression
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa) for Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia
- Olanzapine + Fluoxetine (Symbyax) for Bipolar Disorder
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat, Deroxat) for Depression, PTSD and More
- Quetiapine (Seroquel) for Schizophrenia and Bipolar
- Risperidone (Risperdal) for Schizophrenia and Hypomania
- Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral) for Depression, OCD and More
- Venlafaxine (Effexor or Efexor): Benefits and Side Effects
- Zolpidem Tartrate (Ambien, Stilnoct): Benefits and Side Effects
- Medication Action Mechanisms and Warnings
- NIMH Medications Booklet
- Research Literature and Clinical Trials of Mental Health Drugs
- Resources on Psychotropic Medications
- Drug Information by Generic Name
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by