Evidence-Based Reviews

Buspirone: A forgotten friend

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May offset certain adverse effects. Sexual dysfunction is a common adverse effect of SSRIs. One strategy to offset this phenomenon is to add bupropion. However, in a randomized controlled trial, Landén et al19 found that sexual adverse effects induced by SSRIs were greatly mitigated by adding buspirone, even within the first week of treatment. This improvement was more marked in women than in men, which is helpful because sexual dysfunction in women is generally resistant to other interventions.20 Unlike bupropion, buspirone is not contraindicated in patients with seizure and/or eating disorders.4 Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association practice guidelines for the treatment of major depressive disorder identify buspirone as a useful strategy in treating erectile dysfunction and orgasmic dysfunction due to SSRI treatment.15

Prescribing buspirone: Clinical pearls

Unlikely to cause extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS). Because of its central D2 antagonism, buspirone has a low potential (<1%) to produce EPS. Buspirone has even been shown to reverse haloperidol-induced EPS.21

The Table4 highlights key points to bear in mind when prescribing buspirone.

Challenges with buspirone

Response is not immediate. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone does not have an immediate onset of action.22 With buspirone monotherapy, response may be seen in approximately 2 to 4 weeks.23 Therefore, patients transitioning from a quick-onset benzodiazepine to buspirone may not report a good response. However, as noted above, when using buspirone to treat SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction, response may emerge within 1 week.19 Buspirone also lacks the euphoric and sedative qualities of benzodiazepines that patients may prefer.

Not for patients with hepatic and renal impairment. Because plasma levels of buspirone are elevated in patients with hepatic and renal impairment, this medication is not ideal for use in these populations.4

Continue to: Contraindicated in patients receiving MAOIs

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