If you have anxiety, your medical professional might recommend that you take a prescription drug called Xanax.

Xanax is used to treat the following types of anxiety in adults:

The active drug in Xanax is alprazolam.

Xanax comes as a tablet that you take by mouth. It’s typically used as a short-term treatment. If you’d like to learn more about Xanax, including specifics about its uses, you can see this overview of the medication.

As with other drugs, taking Xanax may cause side effects that can be mild or serious. For more information, we encourage you to keep reading.

While taking Xanax, mild or serious side effects may occur. (Side effects are sometimes referred to as adverse effects.)

Here are some examples of side effects commonly reported with Xanax treatment:

  • problems with coordination
  • not being able to control the muscles you use to speak, which may lead to slowed or slurred speech
  • extreme drowsiness
  • sexual side effects*
  • low blood pressure*

These aren’t all of the side effects that may happen with Xanax. We discuss other possible mild and serious side effects in the sections below.

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.

You may have mild side effects after taking Xanax.

Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Xanax include:

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.

Mild side effects of Xanax can last a short or long time. Some may be easily managed, as well. But if you have any symptoms that continue or bother you, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional or pharmacist. Also, it’s important that you don’t stop taking Xanax unless your medical professional recommends it.

It’s possible that Xanax can cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. We suggest that you refer to the Xanax medication guide for more information.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a medication, it tracks side effects of the drug. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Xanax, you can visit MedWatch.

Xanax may cause serious side effects. Some serious side effects are more common than others.

Serious side effects that have been reported with Xanax include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Xanax, it’s important to call your medical professional immediately. If you feel that the side effects are life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.
Xanax has a boxed warning for this side effect. The warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks. To learn more, you can see the “Side effects up close” section above.

Most of the side effects from Xanax will go away with time. But it’s possible that you may have some long-term side effects of the drug.

For example, Xanax has risks for long-term problems, such as:

In fact, Xanax has boxed warnings for these risks. Boxed warnings appear on the drug’s label and alert you to possible serious risks.

For details about these warnings, we encourage you to see the “Side effects up close” section below.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the side effects of Xanax.

What side effects could Xanax cause in older adults?

The side effects of Xanax in older adults are generally expected to be the same as those in younger people. (For details, you can see the “Which side effects of Xanax are mild?” and “Which side effects of Xanax are serious?” sections above.)

However, older adults may have certain health conditions that affect how their bodies respond to Xanax. These include kidney and liver problems. And these conditions could increase the risk of side effects from the drug.

Because of this, it’s recommended that older people are given a low dosage of Xanax to start.

If you’re an older adult, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional. They can advise you about the risks and benefits of taking Xanax to treat your condition.

Is anger a side effect of Xanax?

Yes, in some cases, you may have anger as a side effect of Xanax.

Mood and behavior changes have been reported in studies of Xanax. These changes can include:

Your risk for mood and behavior changes with Xanax may be higher if you have:

If you’re concerned about your risk for anger as a side effect of Xanax, we suggest that you talk with your medical professional.

How long do side effects of Xanax withdrawal last?

Withdrawal symptoms with Xanax can occur within hours of stopping use of the drug. They might last for several weeks. In rare cases, withdrawal symptoms from Xanax may last for several months.

Xanax has a boxed warning for the risk of withdrawal. Boxed warnings appear on the drug’s label and alert you to possible serious risks. For details about this warning, you can see the “Side effects up close” section below.

If you have more questions about withdrawal and Xanax, we recommend that you talk with your medical professional.

Is it possible to quit taking Xanax without side effects?

With the help of your medical professional, it may be possible to quit taking Xanax without having side effects.

But if you suddenly stop taking Xanax, you may have withdrawal symptoms. It’s important that you don’t stop taking Xanax until your medical professional says it’s safe to do so. When they tell you it’s safe, they’ll lower your dosage slowly over time. This should lessen your risk for withdrawal from the drug.

Xanax has a boxed warning for the risk of withdrawal. Boxed warnings appear on the drug’s label and alert you to possible serious risks. For details about this warning, you can see the “Side effects up close” section below.

If you’d like to learn more about how to stop taking Xanax, it’s important to talk with your medical professional.

Here’s some additional information about some of the side effects that Xanax may cause.

Sexual side effects

Sexual side effects may occur with Xanax use. These side effects were common in studies of the drug.

Xanax may cause changes in your libido (sex drive), which may be higher or lower than usual.

Erectile dysfunction wasn’t specifically reported in the clinical trials of Xanax. But sexual dysfunction was, and this likely includes reports of erectile dysfunction.

It’s important to note that anxiety, which Xanax is used to treat, can also cause sexual side effects. It may be difficult for you to tell if these side effects are caused by the anxiety or by Xanax itself.

Ways to help manage

We recommend that you tell your medical professional about any sexual side effects you have with Xanax. They can help determine if the side effects are from Xanax or the condition the drug is treating.

Seizures

Suddenly stopping Xanax treatment may cause seizures. In some cases, they may be life-threatening. But this side effect was rare in studies of Xanax.

Seizures can cause symptoms such as:

  • confusion
  • stiffening of your body
  • losing control of your bladder or bowels
  • spastic movements of your arms and legs
  • trouble breathing

Ways to help manage

If you have seizures while taking Xanax, it’s important to tell your medical professional right away. They’ll typically prescribe a different treatment for you.

Low blood pressure

Low blood pressure may occur while taking Xanax. This was a common side effect in studies of the drug.

You may not have any symptoms of low blood pressure unless it’s very low. Possible symptoms of very low blood pressure can include:

Ways to help manage

If you have any symptoms of low blood pressure while taking Xanax, we recommend that you talk with your medical professional. They may suggest that you check your blood pressure from time to time using a home monitor.

Boxed warnings

Xanax has boxed warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings appear on the drug’s label and alert you to possible serious risks.

Risk of serious injury or death if used with opioids. The use of Xanax with opioid drugs may cause severe side effects. These include respiratory depression (weak or slow breathing) and extreme sleepiness. Other possible severe side effects include coma and, in certain cases, death.

Examples of opioids include:

  • morphine (Kadian, MS Contin)
  • oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone)
  • hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER)

Risk of misuse and addiction. Xanax treatment may lead to misuse and addiction. Misuse refers to taking a drug in a way other than how your medical professional instructs you to take it. Addiction means continuing to take a drug even if it causes you harmful outcomes. Misuse and addiction can lead to overdose and, in rare cases, death.

Misuse and addiction may cause side effects, such as:

  • blurry vision
  • feelings of confusion, aggression, or irritability
  • tremors
  • trouble remembering or concentrating
  • trouble speaking or slurred speech
  • dizziness
  • anxiety

Risk of dependence and withdrawal. You may develop physical dependence with Xanax. This happens when your body gets used to a drug and needs the drug in order to feel as you usually do.

If you suddenly stop taking Xanax and are dependent on it, you may have withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, this may be life threatening.

Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can include:

Ways to help manage

Below are a few tips for managing the effects of Xanax’s boxed warnings.

Risk with opioids. Before you start taking Xanax, it’s important to tell your medical professional about all the medications you take. If they say that it’s safe to take an opioid with Xanax, they’ll discuss the risks with you. They may also lower your Xanax dosage to lessen your risk for side effects as much as possible.

It’s also advised that while you take Xanax, you talk with them before using any new medications.

Misuse and addiction. It’s recommended that you talk with your medical professional about your risk for misuse and addiction with Xanax. They’ll check you for signs of these conditions before you start taking the drug. They’ll also assess your risk from time to time during your treatment.

Dependence and withdrawal. If you’re concerned about your risk for dependence with Xanax, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional.

We also recommend that you talk with them before you stop taking Xanax. If they tell you it’s safe to stop taking the drug, they’ll lower your dosage slowly over time. This helps reduce your risk for withdrawal symptoms.

It’s important to tell your medical professional right away if you have symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax. They’ll watch your condition closely to help prevent your symptoms from becoming worse. They may also suggest certain treatments to help lessen your withdrawal symptoms.

Suicide prevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:

Not in the U.S.? Find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Xanax can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you develop mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as itchiness, we recommend that you call your medical professional right away. (If a mild reaction isn’t treated, it could become serious.) They may suggest an over-the-counter product to help ease your symptoms.

If they confirm that you had a mild allergic reaction to Xanax, they can advise you about whether it’s safe for you to keep taking the drug.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as trouble breathing or swelling, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your medical professional confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Xanax, they may recommend that you switch to a different treatment.

Monitoring side effects

While you take Xanax, you may want to write down information about any side effects you develop. You can share these notes with your medical professional. This is very helpful to do when you first take new medications or use multiple treatments.

In your notes, you can include answers to questions such as:

  • What dosage was I taking when I developed the side effect?
  • How long after starting that dosage did I have the side effect?
  • What symptoms did I develop?
  • How did the side effect impact my everyday activities?
  • What other medications was I also taking?
  • What other information do I think is important to share?

By writing down notes and sharing them with your medical professional, they’ll learn how Xanax affects you. They can use this information to adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Certain conditions can affect whether it’s safe for you to take Xanax. We describe these factors in more detail below.

FDA boxed warnings

Xanax has boxed warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the following:

Boxed warnings appear on the drug’s label and alert you to possible serious risks.

For details, you can see the “Side effects up close” section above.

Other warnings

Xanax may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. It’s important to talk with your medical professional about your health history before you take Xanax. The list below includes factors to consider.

Lung conditions. Before starting Xanax treatment, it’s recommended that you tell your medical professional if you have any lung conditions. In some situations, death has been reported in people who had severe lung conditions and took Xanax. If you have a lung condition, your medical professional will help determine if it’s safe for you to take the drug.

Depression. If you have depression, taking Xanax may worsen the condition or cause hypomania or mania. Before you start Xanax treatment, let your medical professional know if you have depression. They may prescribe a lower dosage of Xanax than usual.

Liver conditions. Before starting Xanax treatment, be sure your medical professional knows about any liver conditions you have. They may prescribe you a lower dosage of Xanax than usual.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Xanax or any of its ingredients, it’s advised that you do not take Xanax. You can ask your medical professional what other medications are better options for you.

Alcohol use and Xanax

It’s not safe to drink alcohol while taking Xanax.

Both alcohol and Xanax can lead to central nervous system (CNS) depression. This condition slows your brain activity.

In addition, both CNS depression and Xanax may cause side effects such as drowsiness and loss of coordination. If you drink alcohol while taking Xanax, your risk for these side effects is even higher.

If you drink alcohol, your medical professional can advise you on how to stop drinking while taking Xanax. Or instead, they may prescribe a treatment other than Xanax.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Xanax

Here’s some information about Xanax, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Pregnancy. It may not be safe take Xanax while you’re pregnant. The drug may cause sleepiness and trouble breathing in newborns who were exposed to the drug during pregnancy.

If you do take Xanax during pregnancy, you may want to enroll in a pregnancy registry. These registries collect details about the effects of a drug when used during pregnancy.

You can enroll in the National Pregnancy Registry for Psychiatric Medications by visiting the registry’s site. You can also call 866-961-2388.

To learn more about the registry and whether Xanax is right for you while pregnant, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional.

Breastfeeding. It’s not safe to take Xanax while breastfeeding. The drug can pass into breast milk, which can cause sleepiness in a child who is breastfed.

If you’re breastfeeding or thinking about it, it’s recommended that you talk with your medical professional. They can review your treatment options and healthy ways to feed your child.

Misuse of Xanax is possible. Because of this, Xanax has a boxed warning for misuse and addiction. A boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks.

Misuse refers to taking a drug in a way other than how your medical professional told you to take it.

We discuss the risks of misusing Xanax in more detail in the see “Side effects up close” section above.

If you have questions about misuse and Xanax, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional.

Most side effects of Xanax are mild and lessen with time. But in rare cases, serious side effects can happen. If you have questions about possible side effects of Xanax, we suggest that you talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Below are a few questions you may find helpful:

  • Does my age put me at a higher risk for certain side effects of Xanax?
  • Are there any side effects of Xanax that I should tell you about right away?
  • Am I at a high risk for misuse and addiction* with Xanax?
  • Do I have any health conditions that may increase my risk for side effects of Xanax?

* Xanax has a boxed warning for this side effect. The warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks. To learn more, you can see the “Side effects up close” section above.

While you take Xanax, you may find it helpful to speak with a therapist or join a support group. You may also be interested in ways to afford therapy. The following articles might be helpful to you:

You can also visit the BetterHelp website to search for online counseling.

In addition, you can sign up for the Psych Central newsletter. We share stories from other people on mental health journeys, as well as current information about treatments.

Disclaimer: Psych Central has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.