What Does Xanax (Alprazolam) Feel Like?

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Xanax (the brand name for Alprazolam) is the most widely prescribed (1) psychotropic medication in the United States. An estimated 48 million prescriptions were written for Xanax in the year 2013 alone. When used as prescribed, this benzodiazepine can provide relief for conditions like anxiety and panic attacks. When used illicitly, it can provide a similar sense of calm but with a host of potentially dangerous side effects.

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How Does Xanax Make You Feel?

Commonly used for the treatment of anxiety, the primary purpose of Xanax is alleviating these anxious symptoms. Unlike other commonly misused substances, Xanax does not provide the user with a “high.” Many other illicit substances provide an intense sense of euphoria, energy, or “rush.” Xanax, however, does not. It provides the user with a sense of calm and reduction of anxious thoughts and feelings.

Common Side Effects & Symptoms of Xanax & Benzodiazepines

Known for its calming effects (2), Xanax alleviates a multitude of symptoms making it helpful in treating anxiety and panic.

Reduced Anxiety

Xanax’s primary function is the reduction of anxiety. It does this through providing a calming effect throughout the user’s body and mind. It does this by rapidly binding (1) to the part of the brain responsible for regulating sedation and relaxation. It is used in acute instances of anxiety and Panic. This means that it acts rapidly, allowing its effects to be felt almost immediately.

Mood Enhancement

The calming effects that Xanax provides can often lead to improvements in mood. With anxiety reduced, many report that their overall mood increases.

Decreased Inhibitions & Increased Confidence

As users of Xanax feel their anxiety reduce, they may also feel a sense of confidence. Often, anxiety is a factor that limits many who suffer from it. Once this anxiety is treated, many feel that they are less inhibited. This can lead to increased confidence in normal daily activities as well as a willingness to try new activities.

Physical Relaxation

Along with the reduction in anxiety, many who use Xanax report a sense of physical relaxation. Anxiety symptoms can be both mental and physical. As Xanax helps to reduce these symptoms, a physical sensation of relaxation and calm can come over the user.


Similar to feelings of calm and relaxation, drowsiness may occur in some users. The areas of the brain controlling sedation and mood are the same areas responsible for feelings of drowsiness. As Xanax interacts with these parts of the brain, some users may feel a sense of drowsiness or needing to sleep. This can be an indication that the Xanax dosage is too high and should be reported to a physician.

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Negative Side Effects That May Be Felt

As helpful as Xanax is for treating anxiety, it can also carry a host of potentially dangerous side effects (3). The danger of these effects is compounded when Xanax is overused or used without a prescription.

Impaired Cognitive Function

Cognitive function is a term used to describe the rate in which your brain can process information. A common unwanted side effect of Xanax is impairments of this functioning. This side effect is most likely to occur after long periods of frequent use and often will subside after Xanax use has stopped.

Feelings of Detachment or Emotional Numbing

Though feelings of calm are often welcomed, they may also be accompanied by emotional numbing or detachment. These are terms used to describe feelings of disconnection from the world around you. Some Xanax users report that their positive and desired emotions have become numb along with their undesired feelings of anxiety. This symptom is also reported to subside after Xanax use has stopped. Occasionally physicians will explore alternative medications to alleviate this symptom.


Xanax is intended to interact with the brain to produce feelings of calm. Though this is the intended result, brain chemistry and function can also be negatively impacted. An imbalance in this combination of brain chemistry can result in feelings of depression. Common symptoms of depression (4) include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down.”

Does Xanax Stop Racing Thoughts?

Racing thoughts are frequently associated with panic attacks and anxiety. Racing thoughts are characterized by their speed as well as uncontrollable nature. When someone is experiencing a panic attack their thoughts will seem to persist until calming techniques or outside intervention is deployed.

primary function of Xanax (5) is to put a stop to these racing thoughts. Intended for rapid onset, someone using Xanax is intended to quickly begin to feel the racing thoughts stop shortly after taking a Xanax pill.

Can Xanax Make Depression or Anxiety Worse?

Though Xanax is intended to reduce symptoms of anxiety (and in some cases depression (6)), suddenly stopping Xanax use has been reported to increase these symptoms. As the body begins to adapt to the presence of a substance like Xanax, it will become dependent on it to function. As the period of Xanax use lengthens, the body’s dependency increases. Suddenly removing Xanax from the body can induce increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. A physician should be consulted before making changes to Xanax usage.

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Seeking Treatment for Xanax Use

Xanax has been shown to have a high potential for addiction. If you or someone you love finds that they have become addicted to Xanax, there is good news. Help is available. Guardian Recovery specializes in providing the highest quality substance use treatment for those who may be struggling. Our national network of highly trained clinicians are committed to providing you with the tools and skills for long term recovery. Call today to speak with a treatment advisor about your options.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538165/
  2. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/018276s055lbl.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846112/
  4. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression#part_2255
  5. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/018276s055lbl.pdf
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769182/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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