Can Abusing Xanax Cause Depression?

Xanax is a prescription drug that affects the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain. Side effects of abusing Xanax include worsened symptoms of depression or other mental illnesses. Addiction treatment can help with drug abuse.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Abusing Xanax can contribute to symptoms of depression. Xanax has many effects on brain chemistry and mental health that can lead to depression.

Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, a prescription drug used to treat panic disorders and symptoms of anxiety. Xanax is in the drug class benzodiazepines, or “benzos”.

Although Xanax has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain disorders, it is still a dangerous drug when abused.

Xanax is a controlled substance with a high risk for abuse because taking it in larger doses can lead to feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and relaxation.

It can also be highly addictive, and abusing the drug has many common side effects, such as worsened symptoms of depression.

How Xanax Abuse May Cause Depression

Like other benzos, Xanax works to reduce panic attacks and anxiety symptoms by enhancing the activity of a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA has a natural calming effect. But use of Xanax also has side effects like sedation, drowsiness, lightheadedness, dry mouth, and sleepiness.

Xanax abuse can contribute to and cause depressive disorders in a number of ways.

First, by throwing off the brain’s natural balance of GABA, abusing Xanax makes the brain reliant on the drug to produce feelings of calm, relaxation, and wellbeing.

Xanax abuse can also contribute to major sleep problems and heightened levels of anxiety, both of which may worsen depression.

Depression Symptoms That May Result With Xanax Abuse

Side effects of Xanax abuse sometimes include severe depression symptoms, including the following.

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts are often only present when people suffer from major depressive disorders. However, Xanax abuse is known to increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts.

Xanax abuse can also increase erratic and impulsive behavior, creating a truly dangerous situation when suicidal thoughts are present.


Self-isolation, a common symptom of those suffering from depression, may occur when people have depression that results from Xanax abuse.

Loss Of Interest In Activities

People with Xanax-induced depression often show a lack of interest in activities, even those that they used to enjoy.

Other Mental Health Conditions Xanax May Worsen

Depression is not the only mental health condition that Xanax abuse can worsen. Other conditions, including those that Xanax is meant to treat, may also worsen.

Panic Attacks

When used under the medical advice of healthcare professionals, Xanax can be used to treat panic attacks.

But when it is abused, the brain becomes reliant on Xanax for its calming effects, and panic attacks may occur more frequently or get worse.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is another condition that, when taken as prescribed by healthcare providers, Xanax has the ability to treat.

Like panic attacks, anxiety may worsen with Xanax abuse due to the brain’s reliance on Xanax to enhance GABA’s effects.

Memory Loss

Memory loss is a side effect of Xanax abuse, especially when taken at high doses. People often can’t remember what happened while they were under the drug’s effects.

Treatment Programs For Xanax Addiction

Anyone abusing Xanax could benefit from help at a certified substance abuse treatment center. Treatment programs for Xanax usually start with inpatient detox before moving to a rehab center.

If depression is present, a person being treated for Xanax addiction may be prescribed antidepressants to help curb short-term effects and stabilize mood swings.

Other evidence-based treatments for Xanax addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy and group counseling.

The most common length for an inpatient treatment program is 90 days, after which a person is likely to be ready to transition to outpatient care and return to their daily life.

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is a state-of-the-art substance abuse treatment center located just outside of Boston in Canton, MA.

Bedrock specializes in offering inpatient detox and rehab programs to people with alcohol and/or drug addictions. We serve everyone ranging from young adults to older people.

If you or a loved one is battling an addiction, call our helpline today to talk to a specialist and learn more about our care options.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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