Alprazolam, commonly known as”Xanax”, is a drug prescribed to individuals which experience anxiety due touncontrollable chemical imbalances. Specifically, Alprazolam is used to treat Generalized AnxietyDisorder (GAD) which connects therelationship of anxiety with depression and panic disorder. Xanax iscategorized within a class of medication referred to as benzodiazepines, whichcauses effects in the central nervous system to induce sedation,muscle-relaxation and lower anxiety levels. Xanax was created by the UpjohnLaboratories of Kalamazoo in the late 1960s as an anxiety medication.
However,since there was a lack of treatments for panic disorders, Upjohn Laboratorydecided change their initial submission to the FDA as a medication to treatanxiety and renamed it as a medication for patients with panic disorder. Soonafter Upjohn was able to release Alprazolam to the US market on October 1981 asan intermediate onset of action and quicker elimination from the body thanother commonly prescribed benzodiazepines such as Valium or Librium.Furthermore, Xanax has become widelyknown for its medication of anxiety andpanic disorder and has proven its effectiveness for rapid symptom relief.Xanax has a distinct physiologicalmechanism…….1 . Furthermore, the physiological mechanism ofhow Xanax works is by binding to a GABA receptor complex located in the brainalso known as GABA A.
GABA A is identified as the most dominant inhibitoryneurotransmitter in the nervous system, which normally binds to a binding sitein the GABA receptor complex allowing chloride ions to permeate the cell membrane. This is followed by hyperpolarization that occurs in the membranewhich naturally causes an inhibitory mechanism to activate due to the absenceof an action potential. However, because Xanax is a positive allostericmodulator, meaning that when it binds to this receptor complex it turns thewhole mechanism into a conformational change. This then generates GABA to bindmore often, faster, and stronger with the GABA complex. The binding then allowsmore chloride ions to flow more frequently through the ion channel.
The lack ofan action potential to occur causes hyperpolarization in the membrane morefrequently than usual, which results in a reduction of anxiety and panic disorders becauseneurosignals aren’t being sent to the brain. Furthermore, while this mechanismis happening there is a suppression of the hypothalamic pituitary axis, whichis able to control responses of stress and anxiety. Overall, the stress levelsdecrease over time, preventing anxiety and panic to happen.2 Additionally, although Xanax may bemethod to help patients who suffer from common disorders such as insomnia,seizure control, anxiety or panic attacks, this medication may lead tounfortunate side effects. Some common side effect of Xanax include difficulty withcoordination, drowsiness, blurred vision, discouragement, sadness andemptiness, tiredness, poor memory, and slurred speech.3 Feeling sad or empty due to Xanaxis a common side effect because GABA is known to be an inhibitoryneurotransmitter that lowers brain activity affecting the amygdala. Theintegrative center of producing anxiety is the amygdala. The amygdala is a partof the brain that creates and regulates emotions and memory, also known as theprimitive brain.
Thus, because Xanax is a positive allosteric modulator thatcauses an increase in the force and rate at which GABA binds to the GABAreceptor complex preventing action potentials, ultimately decreasing totalbrain activity. Furthermore, an alternative to usingXanax to avoid abuse, addiction, or dependence, is Kava. The Kava root islabeled as a relaxing herbthat has shown results in treating anxiety, insomnia and other nervousdisorders. Kava, through numerous clinical trials, has been determined to beequally effective at decreasing anxiety disorder GAD as Xanax and otheranti-anxiety prescriptions. Kava has also been known to be a much safer andcause less addiction.
Since Xanax dependence increased among with teenagers, Kavaappears to be the safest alternative that provides similar success andefficiency.