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How does Buspirone (BuSpar) effect serotonin levels?

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A. Buspirone [BuSpar] is an anti-anxiety medication unrelated to most typical "sedatives", such as Valium, Xanax, etc. Buspirone is effective for so-called generalized or "free-floating" anxiety, but not for panic attacks. As your question suggests, buspirone works via the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) serotonin. While we don't know exactly what causes anxiety on a chemical level, there is evidence that either too much or too little serotonin is involved--the brain preferring a serotonin level that is just right. Some theories suggest that depression is due to too little serotonin, whereas anxiety is due to too much. Buspirone is a kind of "two-fer" when it comes to serotonin--that is, buspirone is a partial agonist. This is a drug that acts as a kind of weak stand-in for the native brain chemical. So, if the person has too much serotonin, buspirone competes with this chemical and effectively dilute its effect on nerve cell target sites called receptors. If the person has too ... more
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