sleepy man

Q. I would like to know your feelings on the regular use of gabapentin for chronic insomnia. As a long time suffer of insomnia, my doctor has prescribed a myriad of drugs. Most recently upwards of 3600 mg of gabapentin at bedtime.

After more than 6 months of use I have noticed that gabapentin is taking a toll on my quality of life. Your thoughts please!

A. Gabapentin (Neurontin) was originally developed as an anti-seizure drug. It was approved by the FDA as an “add-on” treatment for patients with epilepsy in 1993. Although researchers do not completely understand how gabapentin works to control seizures, they think it affects production of a neurochemical in the brain called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).

Pfizer, the manufacturer of the brand name Neurontin, got into major trouble when it marketed this drug for off-label uses. A company is not allowed to promote a medicine for things that the FDA has not approved. In Pfizer’s case, these unofficial uses for Neurontin included bipolar disorder, alcohol withdrawal, migraines and pain. The company eventually paid $430 million in penalties and admitted to fraudulent promotion.

We mention this because Neurontin is currently available generically as gabapentin. In addition to treating epilepsy, the drug now has official FDA approval for alleviating nerve pain caused by shingles (postherpetic neuralgia).

Even though gabapentin does not have the FDA’s blessing for treating other kinds of nerve pain (neuropathy), many doctors are using it for this purpose. Some physicians prescribe it to patients with fibromyalgia and migraines as well as to control hot flashes brought on by menopause, even though there is no official blessing from the FDA. This is not illegal. Doctors can prescribe any drug for any reason they see fit. That said, we could find little evidence to suggest that gabapentin would be helpful for insomnia. This is definitely an “off-label” use if ever there was one.

If there were few, if any, side effects associated with gabapentin we would not worry too much about the prescribing of this drug for so many off-label uses. But gabapentin has some potentially worrisome adverse effects. The FDA has issued this warning:

“Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including Neurontin [gabapentin], increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Patients treated with any AED for any indication should be monitored for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.”

The FDA also mentions an “unexpectedly high incidence of pancreatic acinar adenocarcinomas” [cancer] in male rats that received gabapentin. The agency adds the unhelpful caveat that the, “clinical significance of this finding is unknown.” In other words, no one knows whether this animal research means that men will be at higher risk for pancreatic cancer. This is not the sort of thing that the FDA requires drug companies to follow up on because the long-term research needed to detect a cancer signal can be quite challenging and expensive.

Gabapentin Side Effects:

  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Fatigue and or tiredness
  • Unsteadiness or incoordination
  • Abnormal thinking, anxiety, hostility, confusion, amnesia,
  • Depression, suicidal thoughts, mood changes
  • Fluid accumulation in feet, edema of face or extremities
  • Digestive distress, indigestion, loss of appetite, gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dry mouth, dental problems, gingivitis
  • Blurred vision, double vision, unusual eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Headache
  • Withdrawal seizures (never stop gabapentin suddenly!)
  • Blood disorders
  • Skin rash (alert your M.D. immediately if this occurs!)
  • Upper respiratory tract infections, fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Palpitations
  • Tremor, jerky movements
  • Joint pain, joint stiffness, arthritis

No one should ever discontinue gabapentin abruptly. Like so many medications that affect the central nervous system, sudden withdrawal may lead to unexpected side effects. Some that have been reported include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, pain, sweating and even seizures. Sadly, though, the FDA gives very little guidance to prescribers about how to gradually taper patients off gabapentin.

Bottom line: Gabapentin is an effective treatment for epilepsy and the excruciating pain that sometimes lingers after an attack of shingles. Although it is quite frequently prescribed for off-label uses, the benefit/risk ratio is not clear. The drug has many potentially serious side effects. We are surprised that your doctor prescribed such a heavy-duty drug for insomnia, especially at such a high dose. The “normal” dose of gabapentin for treating epilepsy or shingles pain would be up to 1800 mg daily. Although 3600 mg is sometimes prescribed, it would have to be considered a high dose, especially for an unapproved use.

Since you report that gabapentin is affecting the quality of your life in a negative way, perhaps it is time to talk to your doctor about reconsidering this drug and discussing a gradual withdrawal process. You may need to consult a sleep specialist to help you deal with your chronic insomnia in a more integrative manner.

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  1. Linda
    Ks, USA

    My 83 year old mom was on this for two days and had terrible side effects! She was put on it for post herpetic neuralgia. The day after she started it she had fever, tremors, chills and confusion. The next day she had excruciating joint pain so she can’t walk! Her confusion is worse and she still has tremors and very shaky voice. Dear Lord please pray for my mom. Thank God she lives with me now and I can help her. This drug should have NEVER been given to her.

  2. Cheryl
    Orange County, CA

    I have also taken the drug for sleep and depression. I gained weight and feel swollen and tired.
    I now smoke weed and it has been a life saver. I do not have pain and I sleep without feeling like the walking dead.

  3. Trish

    I havent read all of the posts here but have considered some. My experience with Gabapentin has been nothing but positive. I am on it for Fibro pain and it has really helped. I am on the max amount per day 1200mg in the UK. It has been really helpful and I dont think I would like to ever part with this med. (it hasnt eliminated all of the pain though). The first thing I noticed is that it makes me really calm and dare I say “happier”. It helps with sleep (although I still take a sleep aid), relaxes me. I havent had the exhaustion I used to suffer with since I took this med so I am actually more up and about and involved in life. My mind seems calmer now than it has ever been all of my life and Im not fretting about things as easy as I used to. Im not really aware of side effects from this med. Yes I have a dry mouth but that comes with taking most meds I think. Just drink more cups of tea so that can only be good (for a Brit girl ). I cry more easily than I used to and I have thought that was the meds but Im not a person who ever cried easily so have a little whinge here and there is actually a good thing too. So thats my story with Gab, love and peace to you all xxx

  4. Chelsea

    Im 16 years old and have a condition called vulvar vestibulitis, very painfull and almost unbearable. I was so relieved when I figured out what it was and was told I could take these pills and eventually they would start to help, they did for a while and still do. I just came across this site after really wondering why I have gotten so stressed out and lately been having suicidal thoughts, cant remember anything when I drink. I don’t enjoy anything I used to. At first it was okay. I started taking them august of last year and I really noticed mood swings in and around December and on from there just got worse. Any time I have any stress from school I don’t sleep for weeks and have anxiety attacks frequently. Cry more often. I also cant loose weight, I eat so little and so healthy and workout 1-2 hours every single day and nothing. I used to have a great metabolism and could eat almost anything without issues. I now binge eat due to stress and frustration. I can never concentrate, school is that much harder. I had had many suicidal thoughts but kept it together just for my boyfriend and family members. I don’t know what else to do, because I don’t want to have these side effects from going off them at any time because i don’t have any time for that. I know the pain was bad, but im definately regretting ever going on them

    • Janelle
      United States

      You should not drink and take this medication. The combination can cause serious side effects that are life threatening. You could go into a major seizure or go in to a coma. No alcohol when taking this medicine. Also at 16 this medication can have worse psychological side effects. Please seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts. Your life is too precious. I understand severe chronic pain, I live with severe Crohn’s with neurological complications which why I am on this medication.

  5. Melanie
    Los Angeles

    I’ve taken gabapentin on and off for a few years, but only within the past three months have I done so om a regular basis. I have nerve pain in my feet, and bipolar disorder….at first the drug worked wonderfully. I was mentally stable, even happy most of the time. My feet didn’t hurt so much…life was lovely.
    However, I gradually increased my dose from 300mg three times a day to a completely INSANE 4000 mg twice a day. Why? Because my body just seemed to WANT it….and I was so calm, pain-free, just content with that dosage…that is, until I gained 25 pounds in two months, my hair started falling out, I was depressed, angry, with a lot of fatigue.

    I stopped cold turkey two days ago. This drug is very seductive at first, but soon your body will rebel. Frankly, it’s a dangerous medication and not many doctors even know how to prescribe it. Nor do they understand it at all, it seems. I will NEVER touch this crap again. It’ll turn you into a fat, depressed blob with thinning hair. And mood swings. I wish I had researched it before I took it, but like a fool I trusted the doctor to know everything about it.

    • judy

      Melanie – I’m glad you didn’t have any seizures from abruptly going off such a high dose of anti-seizure medication. I hope you are still OK.

      I took valium for about 20 years from the mid 70s to 1994, valium has anticonvulsant effects, and you are not supposed to go off it cold turkey because of a risk of seizures. I did not take it a lot, I was at a low dose for many years, 5mg, not every day, about half the time, I needed it for sleep (I only took it at night) and other nights I slept fine without it. But the last two years I took it, due to changes in my environment that made it really hard to sleep, especially a noisy new neighbor who made very loud noise right under where my bed was, starting at 4 and 5 in the morning, and continuing to 6 and 7, I increased the valium I was taking, gradually getting up to taking it every night, and when I would wake in the night, I would take it again. I could only get a prescription for 30 pills a month so there was a limit on how much I could take, but in the last two weeks, I went up steeply, and got to about 30 mg a night, which is a high dose, but I didn’t take it for more than a few days at that level. And it wasn’t working at all, I developed a tolerance for it. So, I just thought “what’s the point?”, it wasn’t working, and there was no internet then, I couldn’t get any information, so I just quit taking it.

      I had some withdrawal symptoms for 3-4 days that were pretty intense, but nothing I couldn’t live with, I was a single parent, my daughter was 9, but fortunately, at that time, by coincidence, not plan, I started a 2 week vacation from work, so while I didn’t cook, I got frozen tv dinners and sandwiches from the store that were already made for us to eat, I still was able to do errands and take care of business. Interestingly, I did sleep every night too, even if only less than a couple of hours, but I thought I wasn’t going to sleep at all, so I was happy about that. But I had this medical book, the Merck Manual, and while I was awake most of the second night, I read the part about valium withdrawal, and it really scared me about seizures.

      I was clearly having neurological symptoms, like my nerves would twitch, my arm or leg would jerk, just once, suddenly, and that would happen maybe a couple of times during the day or night for a couple of nights, I guess that was a kind of seizure activity. I also had some hallucinations where I would see things out of the corners of my eyes, but I would know it was the valium withdrawal causing it, and I saw a bug crawling on my arm a couple of times over those few days. I also irritability on the 3rd and 4th day and I started wondering how long that was going to last, and I was at the drug store so I asked the pharmacist and he said on average it lasts about 2 weeks, so I thought that was OK, ,just to know there was an end in sight, I figured I could handle that. I think it was the 3rd day I had the sweating and chills, I was drinking Chinese herb tea during that day, and I felt something change, shift, and I stopped sweating and I just felt deeply better, and I went and made us dinner, and after that, it was pretty much over.

      I don’t know anything about gabapentin except that from reading up on it, such as your post, I am definitely NOT going to take it. My doctor was recommending it for sleep yesterday. no way, I’d rather not sleep, seriously.

      As for the Valium, after I got of it, I didn’t sleep that great, I got some sleep every night, but I had a really hard intense stressful job and it wasn’t great not sleeping a lot. But I was so happy to be off the Valium, it was worth it. Not long after that, I told the doctor who had been prescribing the valium that I had gone on off it and didn’t need it anymore, although I wasn’t sleeping that good, and he said there was a new medicine out for sleep that wasn’t as strong as Valium and he prescribed that—Ambien. I’ve been on it ever since, but for most of the time, until the past few years, not that much. So now, I am getting ready to go off the Ambien–and the Valium this doctor put me on to get off the Ambien which hasn’t worked, and has done something to me the Ambien wasn’t doing, making me really tired.

      Congratulations for getting off gabapentin—again, I hope you’re OK, given the seizure risk. and I would be really interested in hearing how you’ve been doing in other ways too.

  6. keeper

    Gabapentin 2400mg for over 5 years now due to neuropathy, spinal nerve injury. I knew it was a serious drug when in the beginning, if I was late taking a dose, I would end up in a fetal position feeling like I could crawl outta my skin. A horrible sensation.

    I gained almost 80 pounds in the first year and although I exercise and drink lots of water, I can’t seem to lose any weight. It’s still steadily climbing. I see as I read these comments that now I understand my insatiable sweet tooth is also due to Gabapentin. Hmmm… I didn’t know this. I suffice it with healthy complex carb smoothies, daily. But still the weight continues to rise. I’m so fatigued, I can hardly do much anymore. My alternative to this would be to live with the excruciating nerve pain and still have no quality of life. And that also is in no way a possibility.

    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I hate taking pills. Always have. Hate being called obese by my medical chart. But the doctors don’t offer options. They want you to be sick. I’m job security, ya know?

  7. Deborah

    I just started Gabapentin for fibromyalgia and severe hand and forearm pain. 300mg. just knocks me out, and I am worried that when I am supposed to take this in the daytime I will not be able to function. Has anyone had increased tolerance after time on this drug?

    • Janelle

      I am being treated for neuropathy and severe Crohn’s, I can not take it during the day. Dr. Change dosing to the night time to help sleep. Pain is starting to get worse during the day and not sleeping as well at night. Talk to the doctor about dosing at night. I have crumbling teeth now, not just this med but combined with Crohns not good.

    • Trish

      Gosh that seems off the scale = far too much to take. The limit in the UK is 1200mg a day and they are not allowed to prescribe more than that. So I dont know what Dr allowed you take that amount but obviously its wrong x

      • Kim
        United Kingdom

        I have been on gabapentin 400mg x 3 times daily over year and half now ,The doctors say do you think they help ease pain? ( waiting on lower lumber op ) sciatic netve down leg is unbearable and I have high pain thresh hold.
        I was on most and tramadol at same time did cold turkey last year myself as to many meds was told since the two are opiates and shouldn’t have been allowed

        I have put on a lot of weight put it down to not sleeping, tablets and less mobile
        was put pre gablin but pain consultant says it puts weight on round your midrif and took me of as I’m trying to lose weight
        I came to the conclusion do I know if it helps so stopped it this is my second day last night I was in so much pain , sweating, insomnia
        so I thought see it out but obviously my wee trial shows it works!

        Am awaiting it to kick in please god soon this is unbearable, I have stopped high doses amitriptyline as felt it knocked me out, Yes I hear it supposed to, but I need to function I am a single mum.
        Trish legal limit isn’t 1200mg a day hunni if you attend pain specialist the recommendations are 3200mg at top whack I was on it but have reduced yippee was 4 tabs morning 1600mg and 1600mg night I’ve only dropped 800mg daily but better long run
        It is the tiredness in mornings with morning dose and other meds kills me.

        I’ve not been that bad! Well for a while lol

        Moral of my story when doc next asks does gabapentin work that will be yes :-)

  8. Sarah

    Just wanted to add my story… I started gabapentin about 2 years ago for central neuropathic pain and muscle spasms. I had already been in serious constant pain for a few years and had almost given up on living. I had ended up unemployed and, finally, barely getting out of bed because to do anything meant to experience an intolerable amount of pain. I started taking gabapentin and found relief so quickly that I was upset with myself for not having tried it earlier (I tried many other standard medications that didn’t help much or at all and most had terrible side effects).

    I improved steadily for over a year to where my pain is now manageable.
    I’ll never know for sure what is a side effect of the gabapentin and what is not but as I have started slowly tapering off in the past 6 months, I no longer have daily bouts of deep fatigue.
    I struggle with apathy that may be more rooted in the time prior to gabapentin but (other than the year prior to starting) was never a problem for me in the past.
    My teeth are a mess. My dentist has me on a special treatment now (things like fluoride toothpaste) because my teeth have deteriorated rapidly since starting this med, I have dry mouth.
    I gained 10 lbs rapidly to start. It never got worse than that but the apathy and fatigue made getting it off not yet possible and I am always hungry.
    I have nutritional deficiency like a low b12 test and believe I have low magnesium (not easily tested for).
    taking a simple b-complex vitamin, some magnesium and acupuncture (I believe) have made my taper down pretty easy so far.

    I definitely suggest taking a b complex vitamin, eating well and some magnesium. Gabapentin is thought to diminish nutrients in the body. Chronic pain and stress are also culprits.

    If you’re in pain where the consequences are that you’re ready to or have started giving up on life I suggest trying gabapentin. If you don’t live with others or have trusted people in your daily life make sure to keep a journal to see if your mood changes, some people have serious mood changes and we need to keep ourselves safe.
    Gabapentin may have given me my life back, I was on the highest possible dose of tramadol and it barely touched the pain, I’m glad I took it.
    Still, I believe that gabapentin is now keeping me from a fuller recovery and decent quality of life. I’m down to 300 mg a day this week and my pain levels have not changed. I hope I can manage without it but I’ll never go back to being in constant pain, I would take again if need be.

    But, I would never take this off label or before exhausting non medication treatments.

    • judy

      Good luck with your taper down, I hope you can reduce side effects while continuing pain relief. Gabapentin has a pretty short elimination half life, which means, I think, that if you are cutting down and still not getting return of pain symptoms, that is a good sign. From what I just read from googling, the elimination half life of Gabapentin is between 5 and 7 hours, more or less, meaning that if you stopped taking it (I think), after about 3 days, it would all be out of your body, while some drugs have very long elimination half lives, which means long after you stop taking it, it is still in the bloodstream and having effects on you, though it would continuously be going down. Some drugs have half lives of many days, so the last dose you take would still be in the bloodstream for a month or more. In that case, such drugs would continue to affect a person for quite a while after stopping it. So, if you were tapering off that drug, you might not begin to feel the decrease in its effect for quite a while, but with a drug having a short elimination half life, you would probably be able to tell the effect of the decrease pretty soon. This is just a generalization, there are other things that go into figuring this, but in general, if the medication is quickly eliminated, then as you cut down, you should be able to see the effect of cutting down, while a drug with a long elimination half life would have more of a delayed reaction, where the effects of the decrease catch up with you later. Good luck! Quality of life is what it’s all about and we have to do what we have to do. It’s good to be adaptable and to make changes when things are not working right.

  9. Lucy

    Here is a positive comment about Gabapentin. I am grateful that it alleviated my mother’s excruciating hip and leg pain. She has an erosive form of osteoarthritis. Nothing touched that pain, and she would take her pain medications too close together, and it affected her kidneys. She also began to act irrationally. We were fortunate that during a hospital stay, a doctor took her off stronger pain medications and patches, and tried this drug. Her pain left, her sanity returned. The side-effect was blurry vision in one eye sometimes, but she was over age 85, no longer driving , and being sane and pain-free was a tradeoff. We could care for her at home rather than have her put into a dementia unit of a nursing home.

    • judy

      That’s great! That is a success story.

  10. Darleen

    thank you.

  11. Tom
    Madison, WI

    I have had no side-effects from gabapentin (at least nothing I’ve considered negative). I take 1200 mg 3xday and have been for several months now.

    In general, if you can deal with a problem without pharmaceuticals, you should.

    Anecdotal evidence. I used to work as a nursing assistant in a skilled nursing facility on the surgical rehab wing. We had a knee surgery patient who wouldn’t even take vicodin for pain control. Acetaminophen and that was it. When the R.N. asked her why, she said “I’ve been working in a pharmaceutical lab for decades and I know what’s in the drugs and what the unlisted side-effects are. I’ll deal with the pain.”

  12. Jessica G.
    Lexington, KY

    I have been on gabapentin for over a year now. I have blurred vision, nasty thoughts about myself, I’m tired all the time, and I have gone from 100mg per day to 900-1200mg just to get any relief at all. To make matters worse, the doctor that prescribed it for me is making me go to a neurologist to be weaned off of it! So basically, I’m paying for his mistake, and I had to wait 6 weeks just for that referral to come available.
    I’m hoping to go on Lyrica. I have peripheral neuropathy (non-diabetic).

    Good luck to us all. Prayers to you that you become pain free.

  13. Nan

    I’m gob-smacked! I had no idea how severe and plentiful,the side effects of Gabapentin are.
    It was prescribed for nerve pain (which caused twisting in my feet and legs) due to spinal damage.
    It’s been about a year now, I’m taking approx…1200 mg spread out through the day.I was also having depo-medrol injections for Fibromyalgia. I stopped those, thinking they were causing the side effects. It has been months of more side-effects than I ever thought possible. I thought I was losing my mind…and then I found this page…I am normally a happy person, now I cry too much and life doesn’t hold much joy for me.
    I need to wean myself off …and perhaps only use them when absolutely necessary…
    I want to thank all of you for sharing your stories….I don’t feel so alone and scared anymore.

    • Jessica G.

      You actually shouldn’t use them “only when necessary.” It’s one of those drugs that has to build up in your system, thus the weaning process. Good luck!

  14. Edie
    North Carolina

    Took 100 mg tab for nerve pain due to bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction and it took me two days to get over the effects of that 1 pill. I’ll never take it again.

  15. Dawna
    Omaha, NY

    I started Gabapentin 100-200mg at bedtime to address cervical neck disk problem and stenosis. I’ve been on it approximately 2 years. Last month I began to experience tinnitus. Anybody else? I’ve stopped taking Gabapentin two days ago. Looking through this thread, I suppose I might have to wean myself off. But this tinnitus is NUTS! I hope it stops…

    • Barbara

      I took Gabapentin 100 milligrams daily for 9 days only for anxiety and developed tinnitus. Discontinued the drug approximately one week ago. There are periods of improvement, but it is not completely resolved. It seems to be made worse by stress and anxiety. What is the status of your tinnitus? Hope you are going better.

    • Barbara

      Resending this reply since the previous email address was inadvertently incorrect. I took 100 mg of Gabapentin for 9 days only and then discontinued approximately one week ago when I developed tinnitus. It improves periodically for a time but is not completely resolved. What is the status of your tinnitus? Hope you are doing well.

  16. rp
    United States

    This med gabapentin is crazy, hard time making sentences too, really hard time concentrating, I drink a lot of diet pepsi with it so it makes me real anxious too and tired, fatigued, but it has got rid of hot flashes for me and helps with the arthritis pain, I get real worried about the chest pain and shortness of breath though, guess I need to call my doctor.

  17. lauren phillips
    kingwood, wv

    Gabapentin should not be considered non narcotic. It has all the above mentioned side effects and more. The FDA should be looking closer at this medication. I do not understand why we cannot treat the living better than we treat the dying. People are people, not case numbers. One size DOES NOT FIT ALL. Insurance companies limit the length of stay for patients they treat with medications resulting in adverse reactions, side effects and even death.

  18. tim

    I’ve been on gabapentin for a long time I’m having a problem in the bedroom and don’t know if its the drugs or not.

    • Lee

      Was on 10mg hydros, 4 times a day, Dr. then put me at 3 times a day, Thanks to the DEA and its NEW reschedule of Hydro, Drs are less likely to prescribe. So Dr. put me on 300mg a day three times a day. 1st week dizzy and confused, wore off and it worked quite well on Pain.

      I have High blood pressure, started noticing ringing in ears and blurred vision. I noticed that my blood pressure started to rise after taking Gaba. I didn’t realize that Gaba could raise blood pressure, My doctor should have at least gone over with me that this could be a problem. In there pursuit to get everyone off narcotics, they are prescribing far worse drugs that due more damage than good.

      • Barbara

        Are you still on Gabapentin and has the ringing in your ears gotten any better? I developed ringing after 100 mg per day for 9 days only and discontinued at that point — approximately one week ago. Hope you are going better.

    • Deborah

      I would say it is the gabapentin. Blocking nerve pain for me also blocks the nerve response to pleasure.

  19. Dan

    My psychologist prescribed this for me as a supplement to opiate withdrawal medication. It was 5 years ago. “It would help me relax,” she said. My mother had just passed away, and it seemed to be working. Soon I was up to 1600 mg daily, the “maximum effective dose,” from what I read at the time. I was under the delusion that the drug was rather benign, however, what I’m reading lately makes me think that what I considered relaxed is really the sluggishness I’ve been feeling for so long. My blood pressure has been high, but I never suspected a drug that had a “calming” effect could be the culprit. I think it’s time for me to get off this medication. As creatures of habit, sometimes it’s tough to make a change, even for the better. I’m glad I took the time to re look at this drug, otherwise there’s no telling how many more years I might have suffered.

  20. GAYLE
    United States

    This is the worst medication I have ever been prescribed. 1200 mg a day added to the 21mg a day of vicoden that I take for rather severe mouth pain. If you can imagine someone who can check off every single major side effect and some of the minor side effects. I thought I was going blind. I was terrified that I was developing dementia. The depression was so severe that I seriously considered suicide. My only stabilizing moments were knowing that my little dog would have no one to love and care for her if I was gone. Being off balance I was sure that I would fall in front of people. Plus I gained 20 lbs in less than 8 weeks. 4 weeks ago my granddaughter found out that I was taking Gabapintin and was horrified because she had researched the effects for some other reason. I did not look into much but quit pretty much cold turkey. The hot flashes were as bad as anything I had during menopause. It has been 3 weeks since I quit so guess I am though the worst. I can actually see the computer screen now so I am researching – – and hope I can warn other people of how horrible and how debilitating this medication can be.

  21. Injured

    Anyone else become ravenous with Gabapentin? Really fast weight gain? I’m up almost 10 pounds in a few weeks. Maybe as another poster said I’m not staying hydrated, causing me to crave carbs (sweets!). I never made that connection.

    • GAYLE

      Yep – extremely hungry – but I tried to keep that in check. Put on 20 lbs anyway. Dry mouth = water by my side always.

    • Jodi

      I have been on Gabapentin for about one month and I have gained 15 pounds and drinking like crazy in dialysis already….. please help.

    • Lrus

      I also have been prescribed gabapentin for nerve pain big mistake I am now on the couch 5 days into withdrawals. This medication is addictive and I was never told this. I am so angry at my dr the FDA and anyone else that is ok with this evil pill. I want to sue them all. I am actually fighting for my sanity back.

      Sorry I am ranting but I find it so unfair that the people we trust to keep us safe can get away with prescribing this pill and not going over all the withdrawal symptoms with patients it’s just a crime in itself hopefully I can come back in a month and shed some light on my prognosis to u all who r enduring this painful experience good luck to us!!!

    • onyx

      Yes, I’m hungry, but even though I only eat the same amount as always, and resist the excess hunger, I’ve gained weight. You can’t help it on this drug. I exercise, too.

  22. John
    Long Branch, NJ

    I just started very light dose of this. 100 MG 3x daily. And the fact is, it seems to give me heart arrhythmias. I’ve been haVing trouble with fasciculations in my forearms, and some paresthesia down my spine. And very high anxiety. Well see what happens next. But I don’t think this drug is worth strange feelings near my heart. Honestly, smoking pot seems to make me feel way better.

    • Chris
      Suffolk, Virginia

      I have Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Bad pain in my neck and arms.
      Tried 100mg 3 X day also. It helped, but then I developed sleepiness, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Also whole body shocks and unexpected times. Marijuana worked the best, but the DEA has my Pain Doctor do a urine test every visit. She told me she could loose her license if she treated me with Norco 10mg 3 x day and allowed me to smoke MJ. And I have to pay a $200 copay for the test. I am very upset about this and wrote everyone from the President on down. So I am going to have to do the best I can with Gabapentin and NSAIDS. I can’t believe our Government has put this burden on my shoulders.

      • ana

        yup sad thing the DEA has done to all chronic pain patients, 30 day scripts are for kids I’m 58 ddd severe intractable …am I getting myself trapped after 10 yrs norcos now dr swithin me over to gabapentin? First side effect severe migraines never had a headache before as bad. but sure took the spine pain away..

  23. Shell

    I originally went on Gabapentin to treat lingering pain from a shingles outbreak. The shingles pain went away quickly, but I also noticed that the Gabapentin decreased my chronic pain from my fused cervical spine, and my headaches and disabling migraines became much, much less frequent (from daily to rarely). My doctor chose to keep me on Gabapentin to continue those benefits. (I had tried so many medications to prevent or stop migraines, and nothing had worked before. And I’d resigned myself to living with chronic pain from the spinal fusion. Gabapentin gave me pain relief and hope!!)

    After about 8-9 months on Gabapentin, my night vision got so bad that I didn’t want to drive at night. I was out later than I expected to be one day, and had to drive home in the dark, during a rainstorm. I was terrified! My vision was very blurred and just… off… (don’t have the words to describe it) and I felt like I was driving blind. I literally drove 20mph and pulled over to the curb every time a car got behind me. I went to the ophthalmologist, who did a number of tests, and then told me that my eyes are fine. The problem was coming from my brain — with Gabapentin being the likely cause.

    I weaned off the Gabapentin — without telling my doctor — and at first, felt fine. This was around the end of November. Then the headaches came back, a week or so later, followed by disabling migraines. By the first week of January, I was back in the doctor’s office, getting the standard four-injection “migraine cocktail” (it works, but it hurts!). And my doctor said, “What happened is simple. You stopped taking your migraine medicine and your migraines came back.”

    So I’m back on Gabapentin. I think that over the 8-9 months I was on it previously, I’d forgotten how bad my migraines truly are, and what it’s like to have them daily and have to go to the doctor’s office, urgent care or even the ER for relief. I can get by without driving at night. And I’ve noticed that the Gabapentin is helping me sleep better at night. And there are other pros and cons. For now, on balance, I’m taking my Gabapentin! It may not be a forever-med for me, but it’s definitely the right right-now med and I’m grateful to have it.

    • judy

      That’s really interesting that in your case (and others) it has helped with migraines. My daughter gets daily headaches and migraines several times a month, and has for years. For a long time she’s been on RealPax for the migraines, but she says it’s not working as good as it did, and she only gets 12 pills a month from the insurance, even with a $400 copayment. So, I am curious and wondering what a migraine cocktail injection is and how effective it is. If you would rather have the gabapentin than the migraine cocktail injections, there must be something about the injections that is a major problem? I’m glad you’re getting pain relief. My daughter is not a person who should take anything that can cause suicidal ideation and I know she would not take gabapentin. She scrutinizes potential side effects before taking anything.

  24. Patricia
    Utica, NY

    Gabapentin practically knocked me out on the first dose of 300mg. Rx read: 300mg every 4-6 hours. I immediately experienced crippling side effects associated with it – dizziness, profound loss of energy/tiredness, unpleasant mood, depressive feelings. I could not function for the next 12 – 24 hours or so.

    Thinking my reaction might be dose-related I tried it at half dose after recovering and still felt much worse, with somewhat milder effects of the same symptoms.

    Gabapentin should never have been prescribed for my condition anyway – “idiopathic” progressing peripheral neuropathy with ataxia. I think I know why the prescribing neurologist thought it might help, so I will not blame him for that, but the fact is that it did nothing whatsoever to alleviate the nerve symptoms I experience that are harbingers of increasing nerve damage, even while causing the most extreme side effects.

  25. me

    BAD BAD BADDDDD started use to get off drug addiction, 800mg 3 times a day…honest and truthful PAY ATTENTION!!! at first great tons of energy so so happy, soon after mean and nasty mood swings highly unusual for me really! Cant finish my sentences like WOW memory loss…crapped me brains out…tried to stop felt awful, no energy, sweating, aches, anxious like never before….but worse got pregnant doc assured me it was no prob (almost no studies on this by the way) my child cant pay attention, angry, cant control emotion, cannot sleep!!! could this just be her maybe? but I HIGHLY Highly do not think so has no other probs but shes 3 and still cant sleep the night…oh and we both have gas….no lie worst thing ever…sound crazy I know just no time at the moment! educated 30yr old normal law student small drug prob short lived and then all this due to this drug

    • judy

      So sorry to hear about this—-and how could this drug be prescribed to someone with a developing fetus inside them? My doctor told me yesterday he wants to prescribe this for me to get off a mere 5mg a might (for sleep) diazepam dependence. Don’t they ever think to sit and talk to you about pros and cons, and to seriously consider that maybe you would want to choose to just stop the diazepam and not sleep as well, rather than risk so many serious side effects? Even staying on 5 mg diazepam or less is so much less risky than gababpentin. My doctor is thinking that i would just be on the gabapentin for a short time while i wean off the diazepam. I asked, “how difficult is it to get off the gabapentin?” He said it was not a problem at all. I really believe he thinks that, I don’t think he’s lying, but if I’m a person who has tendencies to be dependent on things that help me sleep, why would it be any easier for me to get off gabapentin than diazepam? I know that he is thinking of the elimination half life, at least I think so. But it’s good to read all of these posts—including the people who have decided that taking gabapentin is a lesser of evils, such as the person with disabling migraines, or the two people who reported freedom from agonizing nerve pain, each of them said the gabapentin effects were bad but they preferred that to the nerve pain (or the woman with night blindness). What I have complained to this doctor about with the diazepam is that it makes me feel hung over all day. He started me on it to substitute it for the Ambien I’ve been on for about 20 years and am at a pretty high dose now, 25mg a night in two doses (very short acting). I should have known better but I followed his advice, took 10mg diazepam, stopped the Ambien, and sure enough, it worked, I slept better on the diazepam and I was off the Ambien, overnight, just like that. But, not only did I sleep well on the Valium/diazapam. I felt like I should be asleep all day, groggy, hungover. And I hated that. I never got that from Ambien. Why take something for sleep if it’s going to make you feel wiped out and tired all day? that was the reason for taking something for sleep, to NOT feel that way. So, he says he would like me to cut down on the Ambien that I went back on when I got a tolerance to the Valium and am now taking both, and then after getting off the Ambien, he wants me to take gabapentin to help me wean off the Valium. So… I’m supposed to take a medication that will make me feel wiped out all day and groggy, and who knows what else, in order to get off a medication that makes me feel wiped out and groggy all day? And this is because, he says, it’s easy to get off gabapentin, unlike Ambien and to a lesser extent Valium. Geez.

      I keep coming back to realizing, I just need to get off all of this, and just sleep less, and I will have a supply of Ambien to take occasionally to catch up on sleep or if I have an early morning appointment, but just make the choice and get off these poisons and work on non pharmaceutical solutions. And enjoy life, and when I’m tired during the day if I don’t get enough sleep, just remember back to when I was on diazepam and I felt groggy and no energy for a year, even though I got great sleep. I’m not on this planet to be asleep.

      Good luck with your little one. No one will ever “know” for sure what the cause of her symptoms are, but the point now is to find solutions to help her, and with your wisdom that you’ve gained through your experience, she probably has a better chance to improve.

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