Phenobarbital is a barbiturate anticonvulsant/hypnotic used to regulate a condition of repeated seizures.

What is Phenobarbital?



Phenobarbital acts as an anti-anxiety medication because of its sedative properties. It is indicated for short-term use of generally no more than 2 weeks in duration. Phenobarbital acts as a non-selective central nervous system (CNS) depressant and is primarily used as a sedative-hypnotic that decreases brain activity to disrupt anxiety-like symptoms. It creates hypotension (reduction in blood pressure) and sedation.

Uses for Phenobarbital

Phenobarbital can help ease withdrawal symptoms from other barbiturates and is used in the medication treatment of benzodiazepine addiction. It also assists with increasing sleep potential in persons with periods of anxiety. This particular drug is generally used to treat seizures and anxiety. It is also used as an anti-seizure medication in those suffering from epilepsy or other types of seizure disorders, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome.

It is often prescribed in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers for anxiety and withdrawal from anxiety medication (benzodiazepines) such as Ativan, Xanax and Klonopin, though it is less frequently used for Klonopin withdrawal because of Klonopin’s long half-life. It can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal.

Phenobarbital is a tolerant anti-anxiety medication that can lead to dependence and habit-forming behavior.

Side Effectsof Phenobarbital

  • Twitching
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a body part
  • Over-sedation
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irritability
  • Agitation

Withdrawal Symptoms of Phenobarbital

Phenobarbital will produce withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly. A gradual reduction of dosage is recommended as withdrawal symptoms can be managed by slowly decreasing the dosage over a period of time.Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Uncontrollable shaking of the body
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness

Phenobarbital, as with any narcotic medication, is addictive and its use should be limited to those who do not have a drug or alcohol addiction.

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