sleepy man, Klonopin for insomnia, melatonin under your tongue, too little sleep

Gabapenin is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs by doctors. At last count over 50 million prescriptions were dispensed annually. It is used for an amazing array of off-label indications. That means physicians are giving it to patients for conditions that the Food and Drug Administration has never approved and for which there may be modest scientific support at best. The reader who asked the question below provides a classic example of just such prescribing. We would not get concerned if this drug was perfectly safe. But gabapentin side effects are not trivial as you will discover in our answer below.

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).

The Off-Label Marketing Boondoggle:

Pfizer, the manufacturer of the brand name Neurontin, got into major trouble when it marketed this drug for off-label uses. A company has historically not been 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).

Off-Label Prescribing Continues:

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

Gabapentin Discontinuation Syndrome (aka Withdrawal):

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.

Stories from Readers:

When you read a long list of gabapentin side effects, like those listed above, your eyes glaze over almost instantly. Drug companies have recognized this, which is why there is so much prescription drug advertising on TV and in magazines. There was a time when the pharmaceutical industry worried about telling patients about such serious side effects as irregular heart rhythms, hypertension or blood disorders. Not any more. They realize that even warnings about heart attacks, strokes or death do not scare people away.

The only way we can help you understand what such side effects are like in real life is to share stories from visitors to this website. Here are just a handful. You can read hundreds more in the comment section at the bottom of this article.

Sue in Corvallis, Oregon writes about her husband:

“My husband has been on gabapentin for anxiety and depression for over 3 years now. The doctors started him on this to get him off the benzodiazepines he had been on for 20 years.

“While it seemed to help in the beginning, they kept increasing the dose. He is currently on 2700 mg per day (900 mg x 3). That is way too much.

He has changed so much – cries hysterically, has mood swings, goes from insomnia to sleep deprivation. He has tremors, blurred vision and now talks about suicide all the time. He is so discouraged.

“If the FDA has not okayed gabapentin for anxiety and depression why do docs prescribe it? I am ready to complain to the drug company! He and I just want his life back. Lying in bed 85% of the time is not helpful.”

Susan in Milton, Florida shares a tragic story:

“My boyfriend was prescribed gabapentin for his diabetic neuropathy. I can see now that he became more withdrawn and one evening left the house without my knowledge and went to the hospital where they prescribed sertraline (Zoloft) and counseling the following Monday.

“He committed suicide Saturday morning. If I had been told by his doctor about the side effects of gabapentin I could have done something to prevent his death.”

Lynn in Mobile, Alabama warns about weight gain from gabapentin (she isn’t the only one):

“I have been on gabapentin (800 mg 3 x daily) for about 13 years. It was prescribed for spinal problems and pain problems in general. When I first started gabapentin it  worked great. But I experienced a tremendous amount of weight gain, like close to 100 pounds!

“As time has gone on I have noticed my life has changed so much. I have developed random weird thoughts. I never want to go anywhere or do anything except sit in my recliner and watch tv.

“I feel a nervous wreck if it’s been awhile since I have taken my gabapentin. I have an overwhelming feeling sometimes, like a flash in my mind of suicidal thoughts. My mind feels scrambled. It is very hard to explain.

“My pain is so unbearable sometimes that I am afraid to get off gabapentin. I am 44 years old and weighing around 250 pounds! I look horrible and don’t want anyone to see me period.”

Jonanne in England has had trouble getting off gabapentin:

“I had been on gabapentin for about two years for nerve damage from gallbladder surgery. I was on 300 mg 3 times a day. These tabs were a wonder drug and took my pain away almost immediately.

“Now two years later I returned to the doctor and told her I would like to come off this medication as I feel it’s time. For the last few weeks she weaned me off them with a withdrawal chart, which I followed till the last tablet. Just two days after being completely off gabapentin the side effects have hit me: dizziness, headaches, nausea, and I actually fainted, which I have never done before in my life.

“The doctor told me I had come off gabapentin too quickly and to start taking a lower dosage. I started weaning myself off gabapentin  gradually again, but still the same symptoms. I have not taken any pills for 5 days and the dizziness and headaches are back. I am not sleeping. I am also having hot sweats in the night and feeling very low in mood. I am not going back on gabapentin! I am going to persevere even with these symptoms and hope I can cope. I feel like I am going around the bend and will never get better.”

The People’s Pharmacy 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 VERY gradual withdrawal process. You may need to consult a sleep specialist to help you deal with your chronic insomnia in a more integrative manner.

You may find our recently revised Guide to Getting A Good Night’s Sleep worth consulting.

People with nerve pain may find our one-hour interview with David Casserett, MD, quite fascinating. In it he talks about medical marijuana for “neuropathic” pain. It is titled, “How One Doctor Changed His Mind About Medical Marijuana.”

Show 1027: How One Doctor Changed His Mind about Medical Marijuana (Archive)

If you are worried about the psychoactive properties of marijuana, you may find this article about canabidiol (CBD) oil of substantial interest. It may ease nerve pain without causing people to get “high.”

This article was revised: 12/8/2016

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  1. Diane

    For diabetic foot pain, this has been a life saver. I have been on 300mg once per day. I take it about 5 hours before I am wanting to fall asleep, and it helps me with that too. An additional benefit has been that the pain I’ve suffered for over two decades from a cervical spine condition is tamped down significantly with only the occasional ER-level flare. Physical side effects for me are dizziness, dry mouth, blurry vision sometimes, edema in my feet though that could be from salt intake.

    Mentally? hm.. kind of that drunk, I-love-you-man way of speaking sometimes, foul-mouthedness when it kicks in sometimes, so yes maybe “hostility,” because I find myself thinking negatively and dropping more than a few F-bomb. Thankfully only my cat usually hears me. It definitely affects my thinking but as others have said, it’s hard to explain. I feel more, I guess introspective? I look at my life, present and past, and I should say already that I am Dx w/ depression and anxiety, so maybe when the gabapentin makes me introspective that is worsened? I guess I just get very … spacey, but well, like if you’ve ever been marijuana stoned, sitting around talking with your friends about life and whatever. It’s that, but going on in your own head, lol.

    Still, personally I don’t think that’s all bad. I’ve done a lot of good writing to that end, you know, both journaling and fiction so if it makes someone feel this way, quit complaining and use it to work out what truths it makes you think about maybe? Overall, I feel the benefits of this medication are worth what side effects I’ve experienced.

  2. Mike
    San Diego

    I was on gabapentin (max dose was 900 mg 3 x = 2700 daily) for pain during radiation therapy for tonsil cancer. After the first two pills (300 mg each) at bedtime the first day, I awoke in the best mood of my life. I had other great positive effects as I was gradually reaching the target dose: improved short-term memory (no longer forgetting why I left one room of the house to go to another), decreased anxiety, much-increased desire to create (I try to write), much better sleep, much reduced social anxiety (I am 65, male and autistic – slightly Aspie), NO more restless leg syndrome (RLS) after a lifetime of having it, much fewer digestive issues and even a temporary change in sexual orientation (I have since early adulthood identified as gay, but started having sex dreams about women and actually started ogling them as well – I know, TMI).

    I became talkative and social and outgoing and not afraid of people anymore. It was, in short, a miracle drug for my autism and other issues. But most of the best of these diminished as I got to max dose. The only bad side effects I had were confusion and clumsiness in the morning, and an increase in depression after a while. It was very effective in getting me through the pain from the RT.

    Six days ago, after exactly following my taper off schedule from the radiation MD, I took my last two pills at bedtime. Since then, I am experiencing the worst stomach acid problems and the RLS has gotten so bad I can’t sleep at all, even sitting up. I went to urgent care two days ago for the digestive distress, and they gave me a lidocaine “cocktail” that helped for one day. Now I am back to the horrible stomach acid (have had GERD for years, but it was under control with omeprazole) and can’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at the most, due to both the RLS and the GERD.

    I am waiting for my primary care physician to call me back today. I am hoping these are just withdrawal symptoms, but if they are not, I really don’t see how I will be able to cope, if this is my new reality. Talk about depressing! I have an appointment next week with a psychiatrist and saw a psychologist for the first time this week. I was hoping the psychiatrist would prescribe gabapentin again on a much smaller dosage so I could maybe experience the initial low dose benefits again. But after this week of symptoms and after reading much more about gabapentin, I am thinking it’s a very bad idea to go back on it.

  3. Kate

    I was on clonazepam since it came out. It has caused dementia. I was told that taking clonazepam for many years will definitely cause dementia with everyone. Please get off of it Maybe Buspar is better Do research before you take anything.They just found this out. It took three weeks to get off of it

  4. Marie

    I was on Gabapentin 300mg x 3 times a day for 6 months for back and leg pain prior to a partial L5 laminectomy. I was driving one day and simply did not know where I was or where I was going. It was terrifying and nothing like this had every happened to me. I called my Father and described what was around me to determine where I was and how to get home. When I saw my near I told him what happened and he said that the gabapentin stopped nerve pain messages to the brain and sometimes other messages and in some patients effected their memory. He told me to cut down on the dose and to remember when I am driving that 50 million people have the same prescription. When I think about that I wonder how many people are drugged out of their mind and don’t know it or realize that it is changing their brain.

    I am very upset that doctors are prescribing such high does to people without letting them know it can make their lives worse. My step Mother has nerve pain and is 86 and the doctors are increasing her dose from 900 a day to 1800 a day and telling her it is fine because some people are on 2700mg a day. She drives and has trouble with walking and her balance and I cannot help but wonder if she is going to fall and have the quality of her life ruined because her medication causes instability and dizziness. There has to be something criminal about these large doses being prescribed to so many people for off label reasons with no monitoring of the side effects and the damage they are doing to people. Very, very sad and wrong.

  5. Maureen
    Las Vegas, NV

    I have been on Gabapentin for almost 1 year now. Originally started with 600mg 3 times a day. now I take 300mg 4 times a day. I have been to 4 doctors but my condition has not improved at all. I have a very itchy rash that I am told is an autoimmune disease – atopic dermatitis but no one can tell me what is causing this problem. it is all over my body. have had several allergy tests with varying results based on the doctor. it does not seem like I am actually allergic to anything other than hay fever. I have had to quit working as a result of this horrible condition. I can not wear anything but loose cotton clothing. These sores are very itchy and bleed badly. no topical ointment seems to work and I was give the Gabapentin to help with the itching and to help me sleep. However I only sleep for about an hour after I take the pills at night but then I am awake for the rest of the night. I am extremely agitated all the time. I have zero tolerance for anything. I am very depressed and have gained a lot of weight.
    Could this be the gabapentin that is causing my irrational behavior? or am I just so beat down from this horrible rash that I can no longer tolerate anything? I get little or no help from the doctors. The dermatologist at the Mayo clinic to me this condition is not coming from my skin and he could not help me. He barely listened to my when I tried to tell him everything I have been through for the last 2 and a half years. he did not refer me to anyone else for help so I went back to my doctors in Las Vegas. Has anyone had a similar experience?

  6. Shirley
    Memphis, TN

    Hello Everyone
    I have been taken gabapentin for the last 2 months. I have this burning and tingling feeling in my foot. I was prescribe 100 mg and a month later 300 mg. I also notice I have dry mouth alone with runny eyes. Just wanted to add a few and I’m so glad I found this forum because I was begining to think I was going nuts.

  7. Ivy

    I was taking this for nerve pain after shingles. I noticed over the course of a couple of months that I was falling asleep abruptly and waking up more and more confused, sometimes to the point I wasn’t sure where I was or what was going on. I was only sleeping in two-hour increments. The final straw for me was when I fell asleep in my chair in the living room (a first) on an evening my boyfriend had an evening class. I woke up completely disoriented, thinking he was home and in bed and not understanding why all the clocks in the house said 9:00pm (the time his class is over). I was determined someone was trying to trick me. I gradually figured out what was going on, but not until I had really freaked myself out. The thing that sucked was that I had kept taking it because it had improved my mood (I have depression). One of the side effects I found was “a false sense of well-being.” What the heck is that? My doctor had presented it as a harmless drug and I was taking 600mg 2x day. The thing with waking up on the night of my boyfriend’s class and being completely discombobulated really scared me, and I stopped cold turkey because I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to. I couldn’t find anything that said anything about side effects like that, unless I was just reading them wrong. I have only had one other experience with a drug approaching that bad, and it was prescribed by my psychiatrist so I had good support. My doctor is not. I am switching doctors to an FNP and I’m hoping to have a better relationship and get a lot of things straightened out. I tend to react oddly to drugs. That was really unexpected and very scary.

  8. Steve

    I’ve been taking this drug for about 3 weeks, 100mg. 2x a day. I’ve noticed a little clumsiness as well as a 5 pound weight gain. I was given this for numbness in my right foot and ankle.. very little improvement, if any. It may help some, but I’m not one of them. Also, watery eyes since I started with this. Not real happy at this point!

  9. Ellen
    Jacksonville FL

    I had pain on the bottom of both big toes and saw a podiatrist. I did not have burning or tingling at all. She pronounced me as having neuropathy without even looking at my feet because on my paperwork I indicated a stroke 3.5 years earlier. (I later discovered my shoes were the culprit.) I was in the emergency room the second night. I took 100 mg and had burning and tingling all over my body, high BP and pulse and insomnia. I thought it was from a low dose of Nortryptaline I had discontinued under a doctor’s supervision a few days prior, yet that is not a withdrawal side effect. I kept taking the gabapentin, as I was told to go up to 900 mg. with the largest dose to be in the evening. I had severe dry eyes, nose, mouth and other mucous. Very croaky voice and shakes. The higher the dosage got, the more burning pain. When I reached 900 mg I had a bloody, crusty nose and a rash began. When I called the doctor, I was told this medicine does mot cause a rash. I am having blood pressure and pulse measurements all over the map and full blown neuropathy. Today I was totally unaware of my surroundings. I tried to get off the meds but ended going back up, not knowing which is worse for the nerve pain I didn’t have to start with!

  10. Pat W
    Minneapolis, MN

    Is anyone taking Gabapenin for Essential Tremor? I’ve been taking it for a couple years, and my tremor has gotten worse much more quickly than it had in the previous 35 years. It’s become very difficult to use a keyboard, and my writing has become very jerky; I have to steady my writing hand with the other for it to be legible. I don’t know what the typical progression of the condition is, but mine had been very gradual until starting Gabapentin. I too have experienced daytime drowsiness and balance problems.

  11. Lee

    My wife was prescribed a low dose (100mg 3x a day) of gabapentin for post-surgical nerve pain. It worked very well for the pain. But after a couple of days significant side-effects arose: blurred vision, memory loss, apparently some hallucinations, odd eye movements, and pretty serious ataxia (jerky and delayed muscle control similar to cerebral palsy). So she stopped taking it til we could talk with her doctor, but she probably won’t take it again. This is temporary pain adequately handled with low doses of hydrocodone.

    This short experience suggests to me that this is a powerful miracle drug. It very quickly blocks pain and in a different way than narcotics. Most users do not have side-effects, and that is why the drug is so popular. However, I can assure you they are possible and can happen at low dosage. Be careful until you are sure you can handle it.

    One thing that was pretty interesting was that my wife was not really aware how serious the side-effects were while they were happening, somewhat like someone who is intoxicated not knowing they are slurring words and stumbling while walking. So it would be very useful to have someone who knows you observe you as you begin taking the medication to watch for effects you may not realize. Definitely don’t drive until you are used to this drug.

    Pages like this are mostly to warn about side-effects, not to report on the near-miracle cures that sometimes result. Remember, severe and unrelieved pain is likely more debilitating (and more likely to lead to suicide) than almost any temporary side-effect.

  12. Larry
    Green Bay, WI

    Taking Gabapentin 1200mg daily along with Venlafaxine 75mg a day. I have taken these medications for 12 days, and the side effects are horrible. I have not left my room this entire time. I have experienced blurred/double vision and lower abdominal pain. I only sleep 4 hours each night and have lost all interest in doing anything. My short term memory has also been affected. I put a call in to my M.D. and I have been waiting for his response. Yes, it has calmed my severe anxiety, but what a heck of a price to pay!

  13. Daniel P.
    Select from list

    So far gabapentin has given me my best month in 20 years.

    Problem. Alcohol.

    • Angela marie

      I actually sleep through the night.

  14. sandy

    Amazing how some have no problems and others do. My heart goes out to all those experiencing such horrific side effects. My experience is much better. This medicine is helping me so much tho I do use a lot less than what is prescribed. I always use less than what the doctors tell me to, even on basic scripts, watching my reaction very closely but so far (3 months in) I’m good–first time without pain in 10 years.

  15. Hazel

    I have been on Gabapentin for nerve pain for about nine months now with no side affects. Over this time, my dosage increased to the max. 2800mg. per day. The only problem I am having is that it worked great until about a month ago, and I thought I had waved all my pain away. Pain has set in again on what seems like a permanent basis so I feel that it loses its effectiveness.

  16. Pam

    This drug is very dangerous I know someone who has been taking this drug and she has every side effect there is she has had pnumonia six times this year and I know it’s because of this medication she is so forgetful she will start tell you something and completely forget what she was saying it’s awful watching her on this medication please if your reading this don’t take this drug !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Brenda
      Devon Engand

      I have recently come off gabapentin,400mg three times a day.I came to the conclusion that it was just making my condition words .Neuropathy poss.due to injury from ski boot over the years.When my middle day dose was due my feet and lower legs were craving the dose.I was loathed to increase so visited the surgery and saw another doctor.She suggested a different medication.So l lowered the dose of gaba. Over a week and a half.

      I noticed that during that time my feet and legs lost that pain and tingling, burning and it all settled down.Anyway l started the new meds.,forgotten the name, and the side effect was almost instant.Took it for two nights then stopped as l couldn’t put up with the continual nausea and diarrhea. So no more, altho I did take one more dose a week later just to see.Same again.When l saw my G.P. after three weeks l told her that l didn’t want anything else as l couldn’t put up with side effects.

      I don’t have the time as l look after my mother who is 100 and a half years old. So far things are okay and l am enjoying not having to swallow anything other than my vitamins.One thing l will add taking a multi-B complex vitamin is so good and soothing and keeps me on an even keel.

  17. Linda

    I have read through the comments about Gabapentin and was sad for those whom had bad experience with this med because this happened to my father as well on just 2 100mg of Gabapentin a day…it didnt help him. But I was prescribed this drug, starting out at a small dose that did not help, 1 100mg 3x a day, so I was titrated up and kept getting titrated up until I was on 3200mg a day which finally produced results for me. The reason it being prescribed was for severe nerve damage pain going down both my legs, causing severe burning and cramping in them as a result of my L2, L3, L4. L5 Lumbar spine being eaten up with arthritis and with bulging disc in each of those. I finally found relief at the 3200mg doseage and Ive been on this dosage for about 2 years now with no side effects other than occassional problems with short term memory, being forgetful at times, but that could be attributable to my age as well as I am 58 years old and not as sharp in my mind as I use to be at the age of 21. I weigh all of 108 pounds and this has been steady all through my doseage so Ive had no weight gain. Its also helped me with my mood, I feel more alive on this med than I did before I began it, because of the severe nerve pain I had been in before, I could barely function. It has been a life-saver for me in helping this horrible burning pain shooting down my legs, and also the feeling like I was walking on shards of glass before I began Gabapentin, it took all that pain away. With what it has done for me, the gains Ive gotten from it far outweigh the risks involved, especially for the fact I have had few side effects or problems with this med. I wish it worked for everyone like it has for me so that they too could experience the benefits I have from Gabapentin. All the best to the sufferers out there searching for what will finally work for them.

  18. Mel

    I have taken this drug for 3 months and have suffered strange side effects. My pharmacist urged me to push the issue with the Dr. to taper off the drug. For all of those reading this forum, the reason I am posting is because of the information my pharmacist provided to me on 7/25/18. They are getting ready to classify this drug as a narcotic. They being the people who regulate and classify drug’s. Some of the adverse reactions of this drug can be liver function, kidney function, and pancreatic function damage.

    I am now being scheduled for “function” tests of these organs because of the suspected adverse reactions of this drug. I have trusted the advise of my pharmacist’s for over 20 years and they have never steered me wrong. I was prescribed a med 15 years ago and had moderate paralysis. The doctor claimed it wasn’t from the drug. On the sixth day I had 2 witnesses to the paralysis, they immediately called the head pharmacist, he said do not take anymore. The pharmacist contacted the medical board and within a year the drug was pulled from market. ALWAYS, ask your pharmacist about meds and possible side effects you may be experiencing. It seems they will listen better than the doctors.

  19. Ivy

    I have taken 3600mg/day of neurontin for about 15 years for small and large fiber neuropathy and other neuropathic pain all caused by Lyme disease. I am floored reading all of this because I never had any of these side effects…in fact, I tell people gabapentin has no side effects! The only problem I had was when a doctor told me to stop taking it and to take GABA supplements instead because they are the same thing. They are not. I had withdrawal symptoms that made me feel like I was going insane, I cried all the time, etc. I’m surprised I didn’t have seizures. I didn’t realize why it was happening but went back on the gabapentin…and they went away.

    The reason I came out here in the first place was to see if you are not supposed to lie down after taking it, because I take it before bed and always have severe coughing spasms. But I guess there must be another reason.

    • Lisa

      Hi, If you have coughing when you lie down, you may have reflux. Your doctor can help with this. Best wishes for good health.

  20. Todd
    Denver CO

    I was given Gabapentin for anxiety and to help me taper off a 30 year benzo prescription. I started 300mgs 3x a day six weeks ago as my shrink told me it was much safer than the xanax. At first I thought i had found a miracle drug, it lowered my anxiety considerably and I had no adverse reactions. Suddenly, 10 days ago, I began experiencing horrific side effects: blurry vision, headaches, muscle and joint pain throughout my body, my eyes are dry, red, & itchy, rapid mood changes, insomnia, lower left quadrant abdominal pain and swelling, strange thoughts, and inability to concentrate on anything. I’m afraid I’ve done permanent brain damage and haven’t left the house in 4 days. I’ve ruled out all other meds, the symptoms worsen ten fold an hour after I take as little as 100mgs with no other drugs in my system. To make matters worse my shrink says Gabapentin cant be causing this since it was well tolerated for a month and there hasn’t been a dosage increase. I know, without a doubt, that it IS the Gabapentin. Now I’m in a situation where I’m suffering from withdrawals from this horrible drug and I can’t even taper off because the side effects are as bad or worse than the withdrawals! Has anyone else experienced “delayed” side effects? Does anything help with them or with withdrawals? How long will this last? I’m about to lose my job because I’m unable to leave the house much less work! I’ve taken dozens of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and just about every recreational drug on the planet (though I’ve been clean for 5+years) and have never experienced anything even close to this nightmare! Heroin & benzo withdrawal is a cake walk in comparison. I can’t believe I’m going through this hell after only using it for one month

    • Dianne

      I have been on Gabapentin for about 3 years. The dosage started at 300 mgs. 3 times a day and a few months ago was increased to 400 mgs. 3 times a day. This drug has the worst side effects of any drug I have been on, and I have been on, and come off, many due to my many health issues. Some of those drugs include, Cymbalta, clonazepam, topirimate, and many different other ones. I noticed in Feb., around the time that my Gabapentin had been increased, and I had finished tapering off of Clonazepam, that I was suddenly having extreme difficulties with balance, cognitive function, double vision, stuttering, tremors, and twitches. I also have gained 40 lbs since then. I have also lost my driver’s license while on this drug due to some of those issues but they were a little less intense then. That should give you an idea of how serious these side effects are now.

      I find myself struggling just to function normally every day, and it is exhausting. As a result I wanted to get off of this drug. I started by taking 100 mgs. out for a month. That is approximately 8%. I did feel a little more shaky but shrugged it off and dropped another 100 mugs the next month, which is approximately 9%. By the third day, I had to be rushed to the ER in an ambulance because I could not stop seizing!! I have had to return to my original dose and start tapering again at 5% every 2 weeks. (This is all under a docotor’s supervision.) I am currently down the 100mgs. again and have noticed the shaking getting worse.

      I am absolutely terrified of dropping this any more. I also cannot stay on this drug because the side effects are so serious. I feel stuck and now very afraid to stay on or get off of this poison. I do not want to go through that again. I have done extensive research on this drug and what it does and can do to the brain and body. It is scary stuff!!

    • Christine Mallin

      I feel like my eyes are permanently crossed and after reading this forum, I’m realizing it’s from the gabapentin! I was taking it sporadically for neck pain that was extending into the back of my head and down through my shoulders. A new physical therapist told me the gabapentin is dangerous to take like I’ve been taking it and told me to wean off. sometimes I would take 1200 mg a day, sometimes 0mg (I took kratom capsules incstead). So how do I wean off of it?

  21. Carla D

    POSITIVE experience with Gabapentin…LIFE SAVER.
    I have been on Gabapentin for five years and do NOT have side-effects. It has helped me VERY MUCH with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) from my hip to my toes, Migraines (Hemiplegic and Vestibular) AND my Corneal Neuropathy caused by a corneal abrasion in 2009. My pain was so bad on my leg, I could not wear clothes, socks or shoes. The pain in my eye was so much I could not function.

    My migraines sent me to bed for 3 days 3-4 times a month – I lost my job due to excessive absenteeism. Gabapentin HAS GIVEN ME MY LIFE BACK.

    EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT and if these patients are having these kind of issues, there has to be other underlining ideologies causing them.
    I have been helped tremendously by this drug, as have others I’ve spoken to. I switched from Percocet, Oxy and Vicodin to Gabaopentin and am ENJOYING life, as are my friends who are also taking Gabapentin for other things. This drug is a lifesaver for us all.
    As a mental health provider, I question the mental health stability of these “suicide” patients by placing their issue on some other problem because it is NOT Gabapentin.

    Suicide thoughts are already there before the drug is administered. If the patient does NOT have counseling for suicide thoughts/depression, their perception of life will ALWAYS get worse with or without Gabapentin or any other drug. The drug does NOT cause suicide thoughts; the thoughts are ALREADY PRESENT and untreated.

    I was originally put on Gabapentin because CRPS comes with an 85% suicide rate. As part of my treatment, my pain management specialist REQUIRED me to have at least six (6) sessions with a psychological therapist – not because he thought Gabapentin would cause suicide but that the CRPS IS AN EXTREMELY HIGH SUICIDE condition (pain level is 42 out of 50 on the national McGill pain index – this is higher than pain associated with: digit amputation without anesthesia, unprepared childbirth, shingles pain, cancer pain, and last but not least a fracture is only rated at 18 out o 50 (again, my pain is 42 out of 50). I went to her for CRPS, not Gabapentin. Even though I am a mental health provider, I went through the psych therapy, along with other therapies along the way. My mental health is in top form; taking Gabapentin since 2013.

    If CRPS has a high suicide rate and this Gabapentin (very questionably) has a high suicide rate, one would consider me (and others like me) to be a suicide statistic right now. However, THIS IS NOT THE CASE. I am a functioning mom of two, married 32 years.
    I felt I needed to STRONGLY state that the negative opinions stated by other patients above IS NOT the norm for Gabapentin (you can safely take 1800mg-3600mg a day.

    These patients need to consult with a therapist, not blame Gabapentin. I, and others like me, are proof that this drug is a MIRACLE LIFE-SAVER.

    Furthermore, patients should investigate other forms of pain management. I have had tremendous and miraculous heeling by using FSM treatments (Frequency Specific Microcurrent). It is painless, non-invasive and WORKS. I almost lost my leg due to CRPS but FSM treatments and Gabapentin have restored my leg and my LIFE.

    Do NOT say this miracle drug is the problem of your mental instability – it was there before you started the drug. It would be the same as if a person got pregnant while taking Tylenol and blaming the Tylenol for the pregnancy – it’s unfathomable.

    People who are saying the Gabapentin caused their memory issues most-likely have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, a food sensitivity disorder, or some other underlying mental-health condition.
    A lack of vitamins/minerals can cause memory loss along with a gazillion other conditions. These people should take Vit. E, Omega 3 fatty-acids, Ginseng, Acetyl-L-Carnitine (just to name a few) to promote memory enhancement, as well as play memory games to enhance memory function (Brain Age is the #1 top game to enhance memory skills and can be played on any device – I play it while waiting for my family when we are out running errands.

    I started playing and my score was the age of an 82 year old. My score is now that of a 20 year old (the younger the age, the better your memory is). My real age is 55.

    Copious amounts of evidence associated with the above-mentioned symptoms by these patients can also be caused by “Food Sensitivity Disorder”. Sensitivities to certain foods/spices, etc., can be found my taking two very simple blood test called IgG and IgA. Eating foods you are sensitive to can cause ALL the above-mentioned symptoms these patients are experiencing. Taking away the foods will take away the symptoms. Eating theses sensitive foods causes the brain to swell, thus, halting proper functions of neurons associated with EVERY aspect of the mind and body.

    For example: One can drive from work to home in 10 min on a clear sunny day. Make that same trip on a foggy day with 1 foot visibility and it will take you 30 min to make the same trip. This is how food sensitivities affect brain function. The swelling obscures the neuropathic pathways needed for proper function; much like the fog obscures the road preventing timely passage of traveling vehicles. Take away the foods causing the “brain fog” (yes, it is a real diagnosis) and the brain will begin to function properly – providing there are no other circumstances.

    Another thing, 90% of children diagnosed with Autism. OCD, ADHA, etc. do NOT have these conditions at all yet are being medicated with mind-altering medications such as Prosac and the like. If the parent were to just do an IgG and IgA test and take away the suspect foods, the child should start to appear normal within 1-2 weeks.

    Our children are proof of this – our daughter became uncontrollable at home, went from all A’s and a teacher’s dream student to getting suspended and grades dropped from A’s to D’s/Fs. She made choices unbecoming of her personality. This change occurred when she started her menstrual cycle. Knowing her hormones had changed, I ordered an IgG and IgA test for her. Of 200 foods, the only response was pineapple. We took her off of pineapple and within 3 weeks she was all A’s again and back to herself. The teachers asked what happened. I told them. They are now educating the parents of their students on how diet affects performance on so many levels in homes of keeping these children OFF OF DRUGS.

    Our son was worse than her. His behavior was a parents/teacher’s worst nightmare. He had been suspended more times than I care to mention. They said to institutionalize him. His doctor wanted to put him on several drugs, including Prosac, but I said NO – lets test his food sensitivities. His behavior was so horrible, he required a personal assistant to be with him at school. After testing, his list was so long for foods he was sensitive to that it was easier to look at the list of food that he could have (those he was not sensitive to). He quickly straightened up and would eventually be rid of his aid. Within two years he had become a teacher assistant while in school, as well as a math tutor.

    Both children are now fully functioning members of our community. Our son will soon get a Bachelor degree with a 4.1 GPA; with a double major (Computer Science and Math), minoring in Computer Assisted Business Management. Our daughter just graduated with a Bachelor in math and statistics, minor in art and photography; graduating with honors. They have both been working since age 16 and NEITHER OF THEM HAVE EVER BEEN ON ANY KIND OF DRUGS – TREATED ONLY WITH DIET CHANGES.
    Gabapentin IS A MIRACLE and people should stop blaming their problems on this drug. They had their mental-health issues PRIOR to the drug and it has NOT been properly diagnoses and/or is being ignored. These folks are NOT seeing things for what they are. They need psych therapy and education on how diet affects the brain and body as a whole.

    Get an IgG and IgA test, SEE A THERAPIST, EXERCISE, take supplements and get you life back. Gabepentin is NOT the cause of your issues.

    • Ryan

      Is it possible your experience with this medication is rare, and you are the outlier?

    • Ivy

      I think the number of people on here who are having trouble points to the fact that it is the gabapentin. You may be one of the people it did help. It didn’t help the rest of us, and while your advice may be well meant, pointing your finger at us and telling us we’re the problem isn’t helpful. I do think, as was suggested, that you’re an outlier, but felt maybe that should be worded a little more strongly to make up for the people you’ve made feel worse for something that isn’t their fault. Please think about the type of forum you’re in and the words you use, because they can cause people pain. Thank you.

  22. Donna
    Jacksonville, FL

    I have been on and off Gabapentin for many years . My symptons include blurred vision, memory loss , anxiety and, most recently, facial tics. I have decided to start tapering down my usage and come off this horrible drug.

  23. Lisa
    Studio City

    I have been on Gabapentin for a few years. Was taking as needed for fibromyalgia. A month ago I was having bad episodes so I took my maximum suggested dose of 300mg 3x a day. Since I have been taking this dosage I have had severe pain in my right knee, and left one is getting worse. I was curious to find out if anyone else has experienced this side effect. I can barely walk now. Please let me know. And if they went off, did this pain subside?

    • Jeana

      Gabapentin and knee pain. My left knee, above my knee, below my knee and behind my knee gets so sore I can’t take it anymore. Both my legs ache terribly. I also started having weird thoughts of jumping of a balcony at work. I’ve had bad dreams too. I had major c-spine surgery from a crushed spinal cord. I experience shaking and tremors all the time. Gabapentin started relieving pain from my neck immediately but now, I’ve had to stop taking it. I started at 300 mg x 3 daily then tried 300 x2 then 300 x 1 and with each dose, I get extreme leg pain. I’ve had pain in my right elbow too. Unfortunely, I can’t continue with it.

    • Dolores

      Diagnosed w/fibromyalgia, severe pains all over. While getting a massage, a chiropractor, whom I did not know, overheard my conversation with my massage therapist ( who changed her location to chiropractor facility.) When finished with massage and started to leave, chiropractor mentioned that recent findings seem to be relating fibromyalgia to possible food allergies and mentioned blood tests could help pin point these possibilities.

      I immediately arranged to have tests done. Results showed a 65% allergen to SOY…ALL TYPES OF SOY. The remaining top nine were all very negligible. The Chiropractor said she had NEVER see such a high reaction to SOY.

      I went home and threw out all food stuffs with soy. I started reading labels and was in for a huge shock! SOY, SOYBEAN OIL, in fact all types of soy are in 95% of the food products on grocery shelves! And I always loved Chinese food!
      I thank God I am totally cured – no fibromyalgia anymore! I am so thankful an astute chiropractor overheard our conversation.

      My lifestyle has totally changed. I RARELY eat out if at all. Most restaurants use soybean oil in some form, usually in
      vegetable oil, yes I found out the hard way.

      The kicker to all this is that the surgical anesthetic, Profopol, is SOY BASED! Again, I found out the hard way! I now cook everything from scratch, do not use any food with additives or preservatives.

  24. Melinda
    California (CA)

    I have been on this nightmare drug for 6 months. And I have been hospitalized 7 times since starting!?! I cannot help but wonder if it is to blame. I started this to help wean myself off from the narcotics I take for severe muscle and migraine pain following a burst aneurysm in my brain 12 years ago.

    I wonder if it is better to be yet another ” pain med statistic ” rather than a bumbling, mumbling sedated sloth. For those who suffer: may God bless and keep you safe. For those who have achieved success and a better quality of life from this medication: may you continue to be blessed. May we all find relief, peace and blessings in our own lives. Love, laughter and hope to one and all. 💋

    • Dee

      I have had the knee pain and low back pain with it as well. But I have not finished weening off of it and am waiting to be off of it for six weeks before I am sure gabapentin is causing it.

  25. Peter

    I have psoriatic arthritis and upper back chronic pain from car accident and 10 knee surgeries 20 years ago. Only medicine that helped was codeine, Tylenol or Vicodin. But to control pain I was taking too much so I ve been taking suboxen. On top of it I’ve taken 1 gabapentin 300mg at night with ambien 10 mg. It was working somewhat. But last year, May when I started to slowly get off from suboxen, I started to have serious sinus pain on the right side that turned into a full-blown migraine. I ended up in ER 8 times. Last trip was in an ambulance.

    2 months ago my pain Dr. asked me to take gapapentin at dinner time. So I did that. My nightly sinus problem disappeared the first night. I have energy to do stuff after work. But I can only sleep 5 hours, sometimes 4. I’ve increased G 3x day. If I take it an hour later at night I wake up with a sinus headache after 3 hours of sleep. I’ve gained weight suddenly, and I get these odd bad memory bursts from my past. I have started periods of depression that has effected my life with thoughts of wanting to die. I have a hard time being socially active and want to be by myself.

    Worst thing is when I’m doing something and an old sad memory comes back out of the blue. English is my 2nd language, and I’ve started to forget words. I could go on. But this is turning into a rant. Last thing, I’m having very difficult time with doctors. I have to see 4 separate doctors, because of my multiple health issues. There’s no cohesive teamwork between them. I’m on my own finding treatment for my health problems.

    • Joy

      It’s horrible. I notice I’ve become extremely angry and aggressive since taking it. I take 900 mg before bed for insomnia. I was told it was not addictive and it would be easy to stop. I tried to wean down to one pill (300mg) as I am tired of always feeling infuriated by everything and having that cause problems in my life. Just going down one pill, the first night I slept 6 hours and the second barely 2 and then woke up wide-awake. And by the way, I take also take Clonopin. So, it’s a little odd to me that just going down one pill could cause extreme side effects. Although Clonopin also has bad side effects, it has a longer half-life, and I’ve never felt the extreme hostility that I feel on Gabapentin. I feel very angry at my doctor for acting like this was a lightweight drug when everything I have read says other otherwise. Good luck to you and everyone who is taking this horrible drug.

  26. Michael

    Had a seizure after taking it the first time. My doctor started me off at 600mg, and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. It’s also had a lasting impact on my vision (having double vision) and have been getting frequent headaches at the very back of my head ever since then. It’s been over 2 months and still no improvement on either front. Have had a CT scan and MRI of my brain, which supposedly looked normal. Got in to see a neurologist, and she noticed one of my pupils is noticeably larger than the other and has ordered an MRI that looks at the blood vessels in the brain.

    Wish I had never taken it and certainly never will again. In fact, it has made me wary of taking any new drugs. Going to go the holistic route from here. Just don’t trust the FDA, the drug companies, or many doctors for that matter. Gabapentin is now a WIDELY prescribed drug and is used in a LOT of off- label uses. Given the possible severity of side effects, none of which I was warned about, it should be prescribed on a much more stringent level.

  27. Annmarie

    After a week, twenty two 100mg gabapentin capsules, I stopped the drug and am suffering side effects. How long will they last?

  28. Rose
    syracuse ny

    I was started out on Gabapentin about 2 yrs go for chronic pain. I was started out at 1 600 mg tab 3xs a day, …this did nothing it seemed so it was doubled to 3600 mgs daily total . I’ve been hiding all the suicide thoughts not wanting anyone to know, depression is always here it seems. The doubling helped a lot..a miracle drug I called it. Then slowly the pain was coming back. I now am in pain 24/ different degrees. And more so than It was in the beginning. Concentration is very difficult, and im extremely forgetful..not like the old me at all. Feeling happy is a rarity. Headaches daily as well. Ive dealt with the suicidal thoughts by repeating to myself..its the drug making me think like this…nothing else. So now I want off the Gabapentin trip….and am looking into CBD oil as a replacement. Would I recommend Gabapentin to anyone? NO! Stay clear from it…I now hope I do not suffer any side affects form getting off it.

  29. RD
    Carrollton, TX

    Gabertentin helped at first (Only took it for one week), then I ended up with double vision, blurriness and dry eyes. After about a month the blurriness stopped. I still get on occasions double vision.

  30. Rosie
    Richmond, VA

    I’m sincerely happy for those who can take gabapentin, get relief from pain, and have no side effects. You’re lucky! I’ve been taking a fairly low dose, starting at 400 mg a day for about 6 weeks for nerve pain due to shingles. It made my depression worse (had to up my antidepressant because of it), gave me diarrhea, and caused loss of appetite. I was exhausted all the time even though I was sleeping well. I was even taking naps in the afternoons! I never do that. And talk about fuzzy brained: I had a hard time getting words out (I thought I was going prematurely senile). I couldn’t remember anything. Totally forgot about things I was supposed to be doing at work. Not good. It has helped with the pain, but it’s not worth it. I’m tapering off now, down to 200 mg a day. Can’t wait to be off of it completely.

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