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. michele

    After having my gallbladder removed two years ago, my feet began to burn like a zillion fire ants were were stinging me. My A1C was 10 and blood sugar was 314. Zing! Diagnosis-Type 2 Diabetes. Before the GB surgery I was borderline & had no burning of my extremities. I was prescribed Amaryl, Metformin, & Lyrica. Have been able to lower the A1C to 7.4 and my blood sugar hovers around 160. Still a work in progress.

    The Lyrica did wonders to stop the horrific burning pain, but, unfortunately, I began having the ‘Lyrica Flu.’ Every inch of my body hurt, 103 temperature, nausea, pounding headache. These fluish symptoms would last 2 days. My Dr. switched me to Gabapentin. At first the dosage was 300 mg. 3x’s per day. 1.5 months later he increased the dosage to 600 mg. 3 times a day or spaced further apart for night relief. Now, I’m on 800 mg. 3 times per day/night.

    Gabapentin has been a miracle med for me, despite the heavy sedated feeling and intense-upon-waking arthritic pain, especially in my shoulders & knees. I’m forgetful as well, but, I can deal with these side effects so much better than the burning hell in my feet! No Gabapentin Flu, & the intense burning pain is 95% resolved & no suicidal or depressive episodes. Lyrica was super expensive & the insurance co. gave the Pharmacy hell to get it refilled! Gabapentin is far- FAR less expensive & no issues from the insurance co.

    If by some miracle, the burning stops, I’d do a slow taper from Gabapentin. I did that already with Klonopin & didn’t rush. Oh, & I pair the GPTN with Ibuprofen & always take my meds with food. Something substantial–apple with cheese, or peanut butter, yogurt & a banana, etc…

    We are all different in which meds do what they do to and/or for us. I hope my story helps someone out there because each & every story here has helped me understand how Gabapentin can help or not. I truly wish none of us needed meds to help with pain but am happy that there are meds that do help.

  2. ckf

    Has anyone experienced hives while taking gabapentin? I have taken it since June 2008 following surgery for spinal stenosis, and had a vein so pinched that I ended up with drop foot. The resulting nerve pain in my leg and foot is what prompted my dr. to prescribe gabapentin. It has helped, but after 4 1/2 years I suddenly got hives which lasted 6 months; after 6 months free of hives (taking allegra and zantac) I suddenly got them again – same week of January!! Hives is listed as a side effect, but if that is the reason I got hives – why after 4 1/2 years, and for 6 months, then gone. Tried eliminating certain foods suggested by an acupuncturist, saw an allergist, had a blood test to determine the cause of hives – no luck! I (and my drs) are baffled – but could it be a build-up of gabapentin, but why go away for 6 months. I have cut back on how much I take a day, but am worried about stopping completely – I have nerve pain at night along with a lot of restlessness when I cut the dose at bedtime. Help?

  3. Penny

    I’ve been on gabapentin for over a year now I’m now on 300mg 5x a day for nerve pain and back pain and it does help me function. But, I feel distant, my memory is not good and I feel constantly tired. I’m also on 8 codeine phosphate 30 mg tablets a day, which is also not good. I’m having an epidural in two weeks in my spine, so hopefully that will ease my pain. I would like to reduce or stop these tablets but don’t know how I can function without them.

  4. Sonia

    I’ve taken gabapentin for migraine prevention and nerve pain. It has a sedating effect that I find quite pleasant. Nevertheless, I experienced loss of balance and in general a drunk like feeling, that made me kind of slow and stupid.
    I read the long term side effects and they look awful. But I guess all people are different.

  5. Nick
    Mill Bay, B.C. Canada

    I have had for 3 years a severe skin ulcer on my upper arm from (several) fiddleback spider bites, which is enormous at about 7 inches in diameter and 3/8 of an inch deep, and subsequently I have a lot of exposed nerve fibers. It is extremely painful, but due to whatever reason doctors here are terrified of prescribing systemic opiate pain killers, so I also get relief from benzocaine containing creams. Since I have other conditions which impair my ability to heal, a graft is not advisable at this point as it would simply leave me with another wound to deal with,

    Because of this, any subsequent relief has been from gabapantin… but I HATE the side effects, such as 3 or 4 second blackouts, or something similar to sleep epilepsy, dizziness etc.

    I was on 1800 mg a day, but have cut down to about 900 and am having really unpleasant side effect from them like extremely severe neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, and other systemic pain and , again, even more blackouts.

    I can’t find anywhere that has a recommended withdrawal regime, though, or even lists the withdrawal side effects, and I really need it. Anyone know where to look?

    • Gigi

      I have been on gabapentin for almost four years for neuropathy in my right leg due to a surgical complication. Even as a nurse I was so desperate for relief that I trusted the doctors in prescribing gabapentin off label and didn’t question dosage. This went on three years until I started researching and compiling a symptoms list of all the unusual experiences I was having, ie. blackouts, dizziness, severe lethargy, mood swings….

      Armed with this list and my husband as a supporting “witness” we met with my neurologist, not the prescribing doctor, who listened and agreed that these were side effects of the medication, shocking! We agreed to a slow titration (cutting the dosage down by small amounts over a course of time) schedule over a six month period, which allowed me to cut my total dosage by 25%. After being on that dosage for six months I repeated the process again. I am now ready to start my 3rd cycle. Monitoring and recording is key in this process as well as communicating with your doctor. I also started exploring options outside of conventional medicine and have found the following very helpful in pain and emotional management; acupuncture, biofeedback, essential oils, mindfulness and don’t laugh but coloring or painting. I wish you luck and prayers in your journey,

  6. DNT

    I am trying to come off it now and have to be hospitalized in order to do it. This has my life at a stop right now. They do not tell you all the side effects. Like blacking out and blood pressure dropping. I’ve almost died twice from trying to stop. Going to be admitted tomorrow to get off this. I originally was taking it for nerve pain…I’d rather have the nerve pain than the side effects of this. It is life or death at this point.

  7. Lindsay

    Gabapentin was prescribed to me for some nerve pain, which I later learned could be resolved through the right stretches and diet. I have scoliosis, and I may have to deal with neuropathy often, but I’ll never resort to Gabapentin again.

    It’s been an awful 6 months of not sleeping, burning pain, anxiety attacks, depression, sudden weight loss, trembling, shaking, and headaches. My doctor keeps saying it will just go away, but I have been trying to withdraw carefully for 3 months, and even a small taper every two weeks starts these terrible withdrawl episodes. She told me there wouldn’t be any withdrawl! I feel truly addicted because around the same time everyday, I start getting panicky and in need of the next dose.

    I was healthy and normal before this, and I regret ever taking this medication. It seems positive for some, but please beware, and if you feel good at first, just stay cautious. I was feeling great in the first month, and then suddenly, I didn’t sleep for over 3 days, hallucinated, lost touch with reality, lost memory of what I did only 10 minutes before, etc etc. Then going off the drug, withdrawl was 10x worse!

  8. Joe

    I am taking 3200 mg of Gabapentin per day due to anxiety. It changed my life, I feel so good and sedated now. I tried other medications, but only Gabapentin works for me. I call it a miracle pill.

    • Frank

      I have been taking 900 to 1200 mgs of gabapentin once a day at bedtime for three and a half years with limited success in treating my spinal pain and insomnia. Then one morning I woke up in withdrawal and after reviewing my Medications it was obvious that the only med I was on that could possibly produce such a varied list of withdrawal symptoms was the gabapentin.

      After doing my own research I was able to determine that gabapentin can produce multiple withdrawal symptoms that can vary from mild to intense, unrelenting, varied, hellish and in general very uncomfortable to tolerate and a challenge to live with while trying to taper off the drug. It’s especially galling to have to suffer this at the hands of a highly respected addiction specialist that assured me gabapentin did not cause withdrawal symptoms. Well folks I’m here to tell you he’s wrong as it is now a medical certainty that some people do develop withdrawal symptoms when even tapering off small amounts of the drug in their effort to get off it completely.

      I guess that’s understandable when the experts admit they do not even understand how gabapentin works. Given that startling admission I’m no longer-surprised that the manufacturers of the FDA don’t understand how Gabapentin works nor are they able to explain what the drugs actions are. What a joke that even the chemists that created the drug and the government oversight department that is the pharmaceutical supervising and regulatory agency are unable to explain the drugs actions and why it is that some people get withdrawal symptoms while others do not. However it seems logical to assume that the higher the dose and the length of time a patient has been on the drug obviously affects how intense and varied the withdrawal symptoms are likely to be the longer one has been on the drug the longer the duration of the jones. I have read that that one year seems to be the time it takes from when a person starts their taper until the users brain calms down, sleep stabilizes, they regain their short term memory, they cease being restless, they make good decisions again, and they start to laugh and joy returns to their lives and they feel that they are finally (or at least most of the time) symptom are symptom free.

      As for myself I have been able to taper down from 900 mgs once a day to a total of 500 mg taking it 4 time a day with 3/100 ,mg doses and one 200 mg dose at bed time. It has taken me about 8 weeks to get this far. Every time I lower the dose I’m Suffer a hellish withdrawal for about a week until my body adjust and I remain on that reduced dose for another week so my body has the chance to recover and my mind a week to prepare for the next battle. From here on out I’m guessing I’m going to have to reduce my dose in smaller increments as 100 mgs of 900 mg total daily dose is a lot less of a percentage drop than 100 mg of a 500 mg daily dose total. From what I have read they recommend 5% reductions after your body has recovered from the last dose reduction.
      Don’t be discouraged just be persistent and stubborn, take it day to day and hopefully you have family, a girl friend/wife or at least some good friends that can and help you and support you through this terrible journey back to the world of the living.

      If I can do this you can. In 2014 it took me a whole year to get free of and recover from a 25 year opiate habit that ended up with me detoxing from a daily dose of buprenorphine equal to 40 mg of oxycodone 5X a day , then in 2015 it took me another whole year to get free of benzodiazepine addiction with a daily dose of 15mg 4X a day and so far this year it’s taken me almost five months to reduce my dose of gabapentin by approximately 44%. By the time I get through this I’ll have been in withdrawal from one drug or another for the majority of the past three years.. The only reason I have been able to do this is because I am one of the most beautiful stubborn people you will ever meet and I put stubbornness to work for me. Also because I’m tired of the drugs controlling my life instead of the other way around, I have decided it’s ti me to take charge of my life, I want and need to be there for my daughter, grand children and my siblings, nieces and nephews to experience the last decade or two of my life living it clean and sober while traveling the world without enjoying the different cultures, meeting new people, sailing the tropics, living winters in a different country ever year, help my family and friends, maybe meeting a new misses (never say never) and never again wasting precious time worrying about running out of my medications.
      Be kind to yourself, good luck with you quest, live in the moment one day at a time and peace be upon you.

      • Brian
        New Bedford

        What a ride my man…. I feel and hear you loud &clear God bless

  9. Chris

    I took my first 400 mg of gabapentin this morning. I’m supposed to take this three times a day. Let me tell you, this entire day has been one big blur. I feel like I’m sleep walking. I can’t remember driving my 8 year old home from school and that scares the heck out of me. I was prescribed the gabapentin for sciatic nerve pain related to a car accident. I’ll take the pain. It didn’t help by the way but to be fair, I’m sure I have to take more to notice. But I like being “with it” mentally so I’m off this stuff. Just wanted to vent. Peace out.

  10. Lem

    I was told by my neurologist to take gabapentin every as a preventive measure for nervous pain and fibromyalgia.
    I took 300mg once daily for about 6 days; the back pain, joint stiffness, headaches, swollen fingers, and serve heartburn is not worth it!!!
    I stop taking gabapentin!
    Between the joint pain and back pain I was bably able to get out of bed.
    I was sick all day today, Mother’s Day, I weren’t able to do anything.
    Oh, I did mention the pain it cause in my chest and throat from the reflux!
    I will talk to my doctor later today.

    • Lem

      I wonder if anyone can tell me if the reflux and the other conditions I mentioned will resolve themselves after stopping the gabapentin?

    • Patsy
      Atlanta, Ga

      I have taken gabapentin for 10 plus years and I wish I hadn’t. My memory has suddenly gone. I don’the know if it is due to gabapentin but have a feeling it is. The feelings you are now having as you start taking gabapentin are what I experienced also. Try taking it only at night for a few days. Good luck.

      • Bee

        Does taking it at night help? I have been on it for about 9 months and notices changes in my mood and have depression and just low negative thoughts; which I have never had before. It does wonders for my back pain, but I hate feeling this way. If taking it at night will help…please advise. Otherwise I am going to wean myself off of it. Thanks for your help.

  11. Marlene
    Cape Coral fl.

    I am really scared to continue with this drug. Although I have bad joint pain from Lyme disease. I do take hydro codon but know it’s addictive . I thought of asking for Aderall heard it might help me. Any suggestions?

  12. Tina

    Have been taking Gabapentin (generic at about a third the price of Neurontin) for a few years for a condition called Brachial Radial Pruritus. Is the only thing that works. 400 mg. before bed when condition flares up, which is only for about 4 months a year (I know, that sounds weird, but google the condition if you’re curious), and not all the time. I find I can take it when I need it, not take it when I have no symptoms. Have not noticed any ill effects except some grogginess in the morning. I actually wish it caused me weight gain- I’m way too skinny!

    Sorry to hear of all the folks who have had such terrible reactions to this drug. At one point a doctor suggested I switch to Lyrica, which he described as the “new improved Neurontin”. I took it for a week and it made me feel so sick I spent the next week weaning myself off it. Worst nausea I have ever experienced, chills, uncontrollable shaking, literally felt like I was dying.

    So, gabapentin works for me with no evil side effects.

    And reading some of these posts, I can’t believe the potpourri of drugs so many people seem to take! Doctors are extremely useful sometimes, but people, try to find more natural ways to deal with your health. Diet, vitamins, herbs, exercise. And don’t take whatever your dr. prescribes without doing your own research into the possible effects of those drugs, because your doctor won’t tell you (I actually think they don’t know).

  13. Johnny

    I am taking five 800 mg Gabapentin a day two in the morning and 3 at night I have notice I am having a hard time staying awake, and I have had fluid weeping from my ears while sleeping, and dizziness.

  14. John
    Tulsa, OK

    Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a HORRIBLE drug regarding potential side effects, some of whicx can be life threatening. In fact, the propensity for Dr’s to prescribe it more & more to avoid prescribing hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc, to appease the governments ‘opioid crackdown’ is reprehensible in my humble opinion. Is there an opioid abuse problem in the US? Certainly, as it is with many things in this country. But our government seems to be ok with trading in a long time used, relatively low side effect drug like Hydrocodone that’s easily monitored with periodic drug screening, for some other drug related problems (like this one has) with a gauntlet of almost certain future perhaps long term serious side effects.

    That being said, to address the original question above about this drug being used for insomnia, I personally don’t know why it would be prescribed for that since it’s listed as one of the side effects. However, knowing I have severe COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, i.e. crappy lungs prone to infections, etc) my Dr. prescribed gabapentin for some rib pain to help me be able to cough so I can keep my lungs clear, which in my case is imperative, and among the side effects unbelievably is (of all things) flu-like symptoms, so go figure. I ALWAYS educate myself on anything and everything chemical in nature Dr’s suggest I put in my body, and this one is particularly scary from a side effect standpoint. Personally, the side effect that stands out the most with me is extreme dizziness accompanied with both insomnia some nights, while others, long bouts of sleep (14hrs+ straight through… my norm is around 5-6hrs per might).

    I’ve also experienced some heavy mucous production, cold/flu-like symptoms (dangerous with my COPD), moodiness, lack of appetite, headaches, repeated rapid uncontrollable eye movements and a bit of blurry vision… ALL since I started gabapentin just 3 short weeks ago. Yes I’ve called & talked with my Dr’s office about it and we’re sticking with it until the 1 month mark to see if these, et al side effects subside. If not, you can believe I’ll be stopping this drug and for those that aren’t sure how to stop it DO NOT STOP THIS DRUG COLD! Call your Dr and ask his advice. If you don’t want to do that for whatever reason taper off in the same fashion your Dr should’ve had you begin it only backwards. If you don’t remember how that was & can’t, or refuse to, call him at minimum taper by cutting the dosage by 1 capsule/tablet for a 7-day period (if you’re taking multiple capsules per dose). If you’re only taking one capsule/tablet daily then PLEASE call your Dr and let them know you’re planning on stopping this drug and request his advice how.

    Good luck and good health to you all!

    (a list of SOME side effects of Gabapentin per

    *again, this is only a PARTIAL list…

    Applies to gabapentin: oral capsule, oral solution, oral suspension, oral tablet. In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by gabapentin. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

    Severity: Major
    You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking gabapentin:
    More common

    Clumsiness or unsteadiness
    continuous, uncontrolled, back-and-forth, or rolling eye movements

    More common in children

    Aggressive behavior or other behavior problems
    concentration problems and change in school performance
    false sense of well-being
    hyperactivity or increase in body movements
    rapidly changing moods
    reacting too quickly, too emotional, or overreacting
    suspiciousness or distrust

    Less common

    Black, tarry stools
    chest pain
    depression, irritability, or other mood or mental changes
    loss of memory
    pain or swelling in the arms or legs
    painful or difficult urination
    shortness of breath
    sore throat
    sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
    swollen glands
    unusual bleeding or bruising
    unusual tiredness or weakness

    Incidence not known

    Abdominal or stomach pain
    blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
    clay-colored stools
    dark urine
    decreased urine output
    fast or irregular heartbeat
    increased thirst
    itching or skin rash
    joint pain
    large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
    loss of appetite
    muscle ache or pain
    red skin lesions, often with a purple center
    red, irritated eyes
    unpleasant breath odor
    vomiting of blood
    yellow eyes or skin

    Severity: Minor

    Some of the side effects that can occur with gabapentin may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:
    More common

    Blurred vision
    cold or flu-like symptoms
    lack or loss of strength
    lower back or side pain
    swelling of the hands, feet, or lower legs
    trembling or shaking

    Less common or rare

    Accidental injury
    appetite increased
    back pain
    bloated or full feeling
    body aches or pain
    burning, dry, or itching eyes
    change in vision
    change in walking and balance
    clumsiness or unsteadiness
    cough producing mucus
    decrease in sexual desire or ability
    difficulty with breathing
    dryness of the mouth or throat
    excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
    excessive tearing
    eye discharge
    feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheadedness
    feeling of warmth or heat
    flushed, dry skin
    flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
    frequent urination
    fruit-like breath odor
    impaired vision
    increased hunger
    increased sensitivity to pain
    increased sensitivity to touch
    increased thirst
    noise in the ears
    pain, redness, rash, swelling, or bleeding where the skin is rubbed off
    passing gas
    redness or swelling in the ear
    redness, pain, swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
    runny nose
    tender, swollen glands in the neck
    tightness in the chest
    tingling in the hands and feet
    trouble sleeping
    trouble swallowing
    trouble thinking
    unexplained weight loss
    voice changes
    weakness or loss of strength
    weight gain

    • Laurie

      I have only been on gabapentin for a few months for CT. Sunday I decided I wanted to stop cold turkey as it wasn’t doing anything for me except making me forget and very irritable. Today, Wednesday I am back on the darn drug as the side effects are like nothing I have ever experienced in my life. I’m scared I will have to take this drug just so I don’t have to experience the withdrawls I was going through. Anyone come right off the drug and can tell me how I can do it? I am taking 1200mg daily

  15. Mitts doctor

    I took gabapentin for about a week for nerve pain from lumbar stenosis nerve damage. I didn’t read side effects, but I’m thankful because this way I know my side effects from hell aren’t self fulfilled prophecies or that I was looking for any side effects. 300 mg 3xs a day may have helped the pain but what good is that if I’m six feet under.

    One day I came home from visiting my mom & step dad – they are like my best friends. I always enjoy them. I noticed as I talked with them I began becoming so so down like a dark curtain was blocking the light. Arriving home I laid in my bed and sobbed uncontrollably. I’m not a crier. I just wanted to die. I cried out for God to help me.

    (I’ve tried to kill myself 3 times in my life at 14, 19, 23 always with pills but it never worked. I never even told anyone or left a note, I’d just wake up & go on living. I never even spoke of it or went to a hospital. Well, I’m 50 now & I have been saved by the grace of God. He opened my eyes My death would caused horrific pain to my loved ones. I realized this after experiencing the deaths of very close loved ones.)

    As I laid there crying like never before I began analyzing Nothing had changed my suicidal tendencies (and I was really gonna do it. I won’t bounce back like when I was young). I begged God please save me. My mom & kids need me. They love me. Suddenly the new drug Gabapentin popped into my head

    I stopped cold turkey but I only took it for a week. Several drugs have caused problems: anaphylaxis, mood swings, psychosis – but Gabapentin is the worst. It also caused ringing in my ears, nausea, diarrhea , tight chest, difficulty breathing, & gained 10 lbs and was still gaining after I stopped. All the side effects lasted after I stopped. BUT the suicidal ideations left the next day.

    We must get the word out that this is some awful “medicine’ Tell your doctors if you notice a change emotionally/physically, and if the doc doesn’t listen be your own advocate. Sometimes we only realize and have empathy when we’ve gone thru it.

    And doctors are now limited in their choices. It’s not their fault. It’s the change in the law thinking opioids will kill us in the long run but giving Gabapentin that can kill you faster than anyone knows. These laws make no sense, We’re in pain, and we just want our life back. We don’t want to be high. We want to walk, bend, workout, make love, spring clean. My God we deserve to move around on our legs without terrifying pain.

  16. Dianne

    I have been taking this for pain. No warnings from doctor. 600 mg 5 tablets a day. My legs feel like jello. I have bad memory and coordination. It does help with pain but that stops working after awhile for me. I have bad jerking in legs and hands. I am getting off this after finding out it has much more serious permanent side effects. I caution everyone to really check this out further before using this. Try to research and find a better option. I have been reading some books on amino acids and how important they are. My books are on diet, addiction, mood problems, medications and amino acids. Some are by Julia Ross, Charles Gant, and Hyla Cass. Please Check into this.

  17. Brian
    Magalia , Calif

    I had tkr and was prescribed Hydrocodone…. 2 months later I realized that I had to get off it, I did, cold. and the withdrawal was not good.. I was put on Gabapentin…. after 2 weeks my joints were noticeably stiffer. Tho I had barely any pain I was all so stiff … hard to want to walk..
    So I looked this up and found that Gabapentin is addictive and one side effect I joint stiffness and muscles too..
    Blimey, now I have to get off these pills……………. so tomorrow I will cut the dose in half…
    Here I go again… Yuk.

  18. Harold

    I started taking gabapentin about a month ago. Now my coordination is shot. I’m going to stop taking this drug because I have gotten no benefit from it at all. However no one seems to recommend how you should taper off.

  19. Ryan

    Interesting, i have been taking Gabapentin for 3 weeks now, again, the moment i started taking this for PHN after Shingles i felt like this was my saviour, i slept like a baby, no pain – the joy!!
    Now, I’ve been back to work for 4 days since 6 weeks off, i have forgotten names, where I’ve parked my car and best of all i put an ID card in an ATM machine and wondered why i didn’t get any money!
    I can feel my head suddenly becoming fuzzy and an episode of forgetfulness kind of plays out in front of me without me having any power over it!
    I am currently taking 900mg per day spread 3 ways.

  20. Wut

    I doubt it

    • Kirk

      I have been taking Gabapentin for almost 2 years. I had a very severe case of shingles which left nerve damage on my left shoulder going up my neck and down to my pectoral. The pain is like someone blowing out a match and touching it to my skin; little electric shocks like watching lightning storms from above moving across Nebraska; and like little fire ants stinging. Of course when I put a shirt on…. fogeddaboudit!!. I wake up in the morning with this pain, and I take two 300 mg caps and two Ibuprofen, and in about an hour the pain fades away. I will feel the fireworks starting around noon and take a couple more, then maybe around dinner I will take the last 2. Some days more, depending on how active it is. I do not take any before bed time.

      Side effects must be the reason for my weight gain of 15 pounds in the last 2 years. I am 6 foot and 66 years of age. Sometimes I find myself dozing, with my head hanging down to my chest at my desk at work. My ears are ringing pretty good right now, so I do have the tinnitus, and lately I have had fluid weeping from my ears while sleeping, which I read is a side effect along with the hundreds listed. Emotionally and mentally I do not feel any side effects.

      The pain is still there in the morning, and I have read that the neuropathy from shingles can last for 3 years. After reading all of the horrendous side effects on this blog, I think I will start taking 1 capsule rather than two and see the effects. I will let you all know.

    • irene

      me too, I have had so many episodes of forgetfulness including forgetting my grandchildrens names its so frightening.

  21. sam

    I have been taking gabapentin for three weeks and am having the worst bouts of constipation I have ever endured in my life. Has anyone else had similar side effects? I am paraplegic and it’s tearing me up. Last episode took miralax, no effect, took mag citrate, it finally took 4 dulcolax tabs. Got straightened out and week later stopped up again.

    • Steven

      I also had constipation with gabapentin. I took 300 mg daily for almost a month but then started having constipation. I dropped it to 100 mg but still had problems, as well as anxiety and sleepiness. I quit taking it. Some of us are very susceptible to constipation with any prescription pain med, and I wish doctors would pay more attention to that.

  22. Ruth

    I’ve only been on this 1 week 100 mgs a day for 3 days then started increasing to 200 mgs. At that point I started waking up with horrible anxiety, shoulders shaking and skin crawling. I feel a terrible fear all day long. I am stopping it. I can not function. Can’t leave my house. I’m hoping the suffering is of short duration. Was supposed to help nerve pain. I have 10X more mental and emotional pain. Don’t take this if you have the slightest bit of anxiety to begin with! I feel like I’m being mentally tortured!

  23. Shelley

    I’ve been taking Gabapentin 300 mg 3X daily for a few weeks now. I feel my behavior has worsened. I’m trigger happy with my tongue…easily provoked and loose with the truth…ready to pounce on anyone who pushes my buttons. I’ve had to keep that in check over the years anyway, but since taking this medication, I feel powerless to control my behavior. It’s making relationships of all kinds very difficult. I may end up losing my job if I can’t get this under control.

    I have peripheral neuropathy in my feet which is why I’m taking it at all. Maybe I need to find a different line of work…

  24. Lisa

    My husband took his first tablet (300 mg.) last night. He went to a pain management doctor with possible nerve pain from a hernia operation 3 months ago. The side effects from just one dose included headache, nausea, feeling disconnected, etc. Many describe same symptoms here. He is taking the 89 pills to police station to be disposed of. He said he is not willing to suffer the side effects and can not imagine swallowing another dose. It was going to be 300 mg day for 5 days, then 300 mg twice for 5 days, then 3 times a day after that. He would rather be in pain than this…

  25. Judy

    I have been prescribed for severe hot flushes. I can’t take HRT, or anything with phytosoy as I have had Oestrogen based breast cancer 4 years ago. I was on HRT when cancer diagnosed.
    I also have had severe depression, diagnosed as chronic, and have had one suicide attempt. I am on Exlaxine, 150, weaned down from 300 for 6 months now.
    I was told to start with 100, then increase to 200mg after 2 nights. Then to 300mg.
    I am not going to take as I will not risk my mental health balance, or taking a drug that is addictive .

    • sharon

      Everything you have said applies to me. Had breast cancer 4 years ago. Tried various drugs for hot flushes and on gabapentin now. It helps but I am suffering with severe stiffness in my fingers and hands. I take various drugs but this has only happened in last week. Convinced its these pills. Gonna come off them. Its scary.

      • Jeralee

        OMG this is me too. I just started taking it. I am getting weird joint pain in areas I have never hurt before. And my hands feel so weird. They are stiff and hurt and feel week. It is even hard for me to press on the keyboard. It is so weird. I took 1 pill 4 days ago and felt like something heavy was on my chest and had extreme chest pain with weird rotating pain throughout my body.

        I took 1 pill again 2 days later and wasn’t so bad. I took it again today and now it is my hands and the weird pain. This stuff scares me. I am supposed to take 3 pills a day and this is happening only with one pill. I think it is also making me have weird dreams and 2 times while awake and starting to fall asleep I swear I heard a voice speak to me. I’ve never had these things happen before.

        • Terry Graedon

          Get in touch with the prescribing physician to report your reactions. S/He may have some advice for you, and at least should know if you won’t be able to take it.

        • Helsa

          I have pain in my hands too! Some time my hands just feel puffy, sometimes they hurt. My muscles are starting to hurt all over. My legs have swollen and I’m having pain in my feet. Walking fast feels like I’m wearing cement boots. This medicine is awful.

  26. gail

    Im trying to go down from 400 mgs 4 x daily to 300 mgs daily and the doctor said just stop the 400 and go to the 300 it would be alright cause I have not been on the 400 but a month well let me tell you im having terrible panic attacks I can’t brethe and my head is killing me so I have started taking 2 of the 400 and 2 of the 300 for a week then Im going to 1 400 and 3 of the 300 for a week then go to all 300. this sucks I never thought that this med was like this

    • Steve
      I cant remember

      I’m on over 3600 ,Wow I thought this was my saving grace but, in the last six months I lost 3 jobs , I replaced 4 mg of Xanax and for this so called “non-narcotic”, so I know what memory loss is but, not like this I noticed a disconnect
      in my mind to ware I can’t even attempt to retrace my steps or sit and ponder a important situation because it feels like a circuit that thrived is now dead , in in my early thirties I,thrived in college, got a into a lucrative business sold it because of stress and , anxiety, now I watch it grow X 10 fold . As I look at the bigger picture world today like proabition in th 20″s is a medicated society , the answer is a pill and your not an addict because you get it from a person who we call , a doctor

  27. gail

    How do you wean off of this med. without suffering?

  28. Erica

    Wow. I have a Kidney Stone Disease with a damaged Urter. My nerves on my left side are so bad & I have HORRIBLE restless legs. I can’t sleep at night. I have Pain Medication that helps to a point, but I’m only 35 & I do not wanna be on that forever. I wanna have kids….so I was talking to my doctor about it & she proscribed this medication, but after reading all of this, I’m definitely not going to take it cuz it sounds like another drug I would just have to be weened off… I right?? Has anyone taken anything else along these lines that has actually helped & not made you a crazy person, like how I’m feeling?!! I need sleep! Thanks So Much

    • Kristy

      Yes I’m pregnant now and trying to taper off and it’s horrible. Terrible anxiety enough to be hospitalized. Granted I have the stress of finding out I was pregnant adding to it but I blame gabapentin. I was prescribed it for restless legs and told numerous time it was non addicting and no withdrawal from two doctors and a pharmacist. What a joke stay away

    • Phyyllis

      Yes I had good results taking Gabapentin. The only side effect I had was I would inadvertibly say the wrong word. Off the wall like mean to say dog and say house. A small price to pay considering gabapentin helped with the nerve pain in my neck. As well as other pain, The side effect from getting off of them was flu like symptoms. I was first given this drug before an out patient procedure, pain block. Which was to stop the communication from my brain to my arm. Soon after administering the Gabapentin my pain stopped (prior to the actual pain block procedure. After discussing this with the antistesiologist he explained that gabapentin was used for this type of pain, However, a few years later Phifer was sued for promoting gabapentin for pain. The FDA had not approved it for pain so it was illegal to promote it for pain. They tried to get me to go along with the lawsuit. I declined because it was the best cure I had encountered. For some reason when I would get better I stopped taking it only to realize years later how much it helped me. It does make you gain weight.

    • Bobbie

      I take Gabapentin and have nothing but relief from restless legs and nerve pain from MS. Everyone is different. I’m glad I can take this without the problems I’m reading here.

      • George
        Southern California

        I have very painful back problems, and what is worse is the left leg is numb and has a twitch to it. It also feels very weak. I took this drug for 3 days and now my leg and the pain there is gone. Still have some back pain, but the pain that I felt in my leg was so bad I could hardly walk.

        I too am worried about side effects. But this drug has stopped unbearable pain. So, I guess I will keep taking it. If I forget things or am in a daze, that is better than the pain I had. I don’t have any side effects yet.

    • Christopher

      Have you ever taken Trazadone for sleep? I would have say it works good for me. The doctor also prescribed Seroquil and it was way too strong. I had to physically lift legs to the floor the next morning to get out of bed, not to mention i had crazy off the wall dreams. For sleep i would recommend good old fashioned Benadryl. I have been on Gabapentin 100mg 3x a day for a month now and it has helped my anxiety, depression and nerve pain in my shoulder/back. Be careful with opiates, although i wish my doctor would prescribe me something opiate based for my pain but he is hesitant because my history of abuse “was on methadone for 12 years.” Im 38 and just want to live the life i once had! Anyways i wish you the best and hope that my advise has helped you. Btw, im not a doctor just a human being sharing my thoughts. Take care

    • Mary

      I am 62 years old and have suffered with restless legs syndrome since birth. Sometimes getting up and walking helps. Elevating my legs on a pillow did not help. Only two things help me. One–I must always keep my legs warm with socks, extra blanket, and pajama bottoms; even though I do not feel cold. Two–the only drug that works for me is zanaflex. Hope you feel better.

  29. plevi

    I’ve been taking this med for serious restless leg syndrome for half a year (the sleep specialist prescribed it after the dopamine agonist stopped working). This is the only available medication that helps now. However, it makes me anxious and extremely tired at the same time. Before taking Gabapentin I’d never had the anxiety, only the fatigue-probably because of the RLS. When I take this drug in the evening, my next day is ruined.
    beware of this drug those who can

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