Q. Is it possible that NSAIDs can make you spacey and anxious? My doctor recommended ibuprofen for a bad back and knee. I think this drug makes me jittery. When I complained about nervousness, he prescribed alprazolam which I have been taking every day for several months.
A different doctor told me to stop alprazolam because I could get addicted. This is the fourth day without it and I don’t like the way I feel. Even my handwriting is affected. Please send me some information about these drugs.
A. Pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac may make some folks anxious or drowsy or affect concentration.
A few years ago we heard from a nurse who complained that NSAIDs made her confused and affected her memory. She worried that she was developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. When she discontinued the NSAID her mental acuity returned.
Most people focus on the digestive-tract irritation of NSAIDs because such drugs are notorious for causing heartburn or even ulcers. What is often forgotten is that there are many other possible complications including ringing in the ears (tinnitus), high blood pressure, dizziness, headache, flatulence, and nausea.
The doctor is correct that long-term use of anti-anxiety drugs like alprazolam, diazepam or lorazepam can cause dependency. But suggesting that you stop cold turkey might be considered irresponsible. Withdrawal symptoms such as exaggerated anxiety, lightheadedness, agitation and difficulty concentrating can be extremely distressing.
Ask your doctor to help you reduce the dose of the medicine gradually. To give you more information about NSAIDs and nervousness as well as withdrawal from anti-anxiety drugs, we are sending you our Guide to Psychological Side Effects. Download it for FREE in our People’s Pharmacy online store.
You might also find that a non-drug pain reliever works better with fewer complications. We would suggest the following for your bad back and knee:
- Certo & grape juice
- Cherry juice
- Turmeric (curcumin)
- Fish oil
- Gin-soaked raisins
- Honey & vinegar
- Pineapple juice (bromelain)
- Vitamin D
You can find details in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.