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BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information is for people who have anxiety disorder. It tells you about pregabalin, a treatment used for anxiety disorder. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Probably. Taking pregabalin can help you feel less anxious after about four weeks. It may work as well as or better than drugs called benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam and alprazolam, to reduce feelings of anxiety. There haven't been any good-quality studies to see if it works in children or teenagers.

What is it?

Pregabalin is a drug treatment that was originally used to treat epilepsy. It is also used to treat neuropathic pain ( pain that comes from nerve damage rather than from injury). The brand name for pregabalin is Lyrica.

Pregabalin comes as tablets that you take two or tree times a day. You might build up your dose gradually over a few weeks.

How can it help?

Pregabalin can help reduce your symptoms of anxiety. [102] [103] [104] [105] [95]

Pregabalin seems to work as well as benzodiazepines, another group of drugs often used to treat anxiety. [102] [103] To learn more, see Benzodiazepines.

How does it work?

Scientists aren't sure how pregabalin works to reduce anxiety. In epilepsy, pregabalin helps to calm down the electrical signals in the brain by copying the action of a brain chemical called GABA. In effect, GABA is a calming chemical that helps to balance the firing of signals in the brain. People with epilepsy have very erratic electrical activity in their brain. By calming down these electrical signals, pregabalin helps to prevent seizures (fits). But we don't yet know if this is also how pregabalin helps people feel less anxious.

Can it be harmful?

Self-harm and suicide

There is a very small risk that taking pregabalin might make you more likely to think about suicide or harming yourself. [85] If you are worried about any thoughts or feelings you have, see your doctor straight away.

How good is the research on pregabalin?

There is some good evidence that pregabalin helps people with anxiety. Four good-quality studies ( randomised controlled trials) have looked at the effects of pregabalin in people with anxiety. [106] [107] [95] [105]

All the studies found that pregabalin worked better than a dummy treatment (a placebo) to help reduce people's anxiety.

One study also found that pregabalin worked as well as the benzodiazepine lorazepam. [106] Another found that pregabalin worked better than the benzodiazepine alprazolam. [107]

Last Updated: December 17, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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