Pregabalin ("Preh-GA-ba-lin") is an anticonvulsant medicine which can be used to treat anxiety

This page will give you general information about pregabalin. It is not medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about your situation and whether this medication is for you.

What's it for?

Pregabalin can be prescribed to adults for the following conditions:

  • generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • nerve pain
  • epilepsy

Your doctor should discuss the reasons why they believe this is the right medication for you before you start taking it.

Name: pregabalin ("Preh-GA-ba-lin")

Other names: Lyrica™ ("LI-ri-ka"), Alzain™ ("Al-zain"), Axalid (“Ax-a-lid”)

Medication type: anticonvulsant

What can it be used for?
If you are 18 or over, the doctor can prescribe pregabalin for you as a licensed medicine for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

There is less research about its use and effectiveness in young people under 18. Even so, specialists might prescribe it ‘off-label’ if they believe it is the best medicine for you.

Ways to take it:
Capsules: 25mg, 50mg, 75mg, 100mg, 150mg, 200mg, 225mg and 300mg

Liquids: (‘oral solution’) 20mg pregabalin in 1ml of medicine

How it works

What does pregabalin do?

Pregabalin is related to the calming brain chemical gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).

It reduces the release of brain chemicals that have a stimulating effect.

Pregabalin is a 'controlled drug'. This means that a prescription for pregabalin must be dispensed within 28 days (you can keep most other prescriptions for six months). This is because pregabalin can be abused and might be sold as a street drug. If you must take it to school, it might have to be locked in a safe place.

How long does pregabalin take to start working?

It can take a little time for pregabalin to start helping with anxiety.

In most clinical trials, researchers saw people getting relief from the symptoms of anxiety by week four of taking pregabalin.

How long will I need to take pregabalin?

Many people take pregabalin for some months to prevent their symptoms from returning.

You and your doctor should discuss how long you need to take pregabalin.

Your doctor needs to know if...

You need to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting treatment with pregabalin if you have any of the following:

  • problems with your kidneys or liver
  • regular constipation (difficulty going to the toilet for a poo)
  • problems with your heart
  • problems with controlling your use of alcohol or drugs
  • seizures (fits)
  • diabetes
  • problems with your eyesight

Taking pregabalin

You should only take pregabalin as agreed with your doctor.

Make sure that you know your dose. If it is not written on the label, check with your pharmacist or doctor.

You may have to take it two or three times a day.

Your doctor may start you on a small dose, which they will then increase slowly over two to three weeks.

It does not matter what time you take it each day. Choose times that you can always remember. This could be at mealtimes, or when you brush your teeth.

You can take it before or after food.

Swallow the capsule whole, with a drink of water – if you chew it, the taste of the ingredients will be unpleasant.

If you are using the oral solution you may have to use a special syringe and stopper for the bottle to get your exact dose.

What if I miss a dose?

If you remember, take it as soon as possible.

If you forget to take it by the time your next dose is due, just miss it out and start again with the next dose.

Do not take a double dose.

What will happen if I forget to take my pregabalin?

If you forget to take your medicine for a few days, you may start feeling anxious again, and you could have a seizure (fit). Talk to your doctor if this happens to you.

Stopping the use of pregabalin

You will probably get uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you stop pregabalin suddenly. It is better to agree stopping with a doctor who will reduce your dose gradually.

These symptoms can be worse if you are taking a high dose of pregabalin or have been taking it for a long time.

This does not mean you are addicted to the medicine; it just means that your brain has become used to having it there and balancing chemicals accordingly.

Some of the symptoms you might get include:

  • dizziness or headaches
  • finding it hard to get to sleep
  • feeling anxious or nervous
  • feeling sick or getting diarrhoea (having loose poo)
  • sweating a lot
  • low mood (feeling depressed)
  • flu-like symptoms
  • feeling pain
  • having seizures (fits)

Go and speak to your doctor if you have missed a few doses or have decided to stop taking your medication. If you slowly reduce your medication, withdrawal symptoms are less likely to occur.

The information on this page was reviewed by the College of Mental Health Pharmacy in March 2020.

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