Omeprazole: An Anxiety Inducing Drug?

Just about every medication approved by the FDA has at least a few side effects. But what is uncommon is a medication that induces anxiety or changes the mental state of an individual.

Omeprazole is a drug under the classification of PPI for gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is a chronic condition that causes stomach acid to travel back to the esophagus, causing chest pain and burning sensation. Besides, omeprazole may also be used for duodenal ulcers and erosive esophagitis.

Over the recent years, omeprazole has indicated an association with anxiety and depression. Are you feeling jittery and anxious after taking omeprazole? Could it be inducing your anxiety? If you want to know more about omeprazole anxiety and depression, keep reading till the end of the article.

Why Does Omeprazole Cause Anxiety?

Doctors will often prescribe proton pump inhibitor medication for acid reflux and frequent heartburn symptoms. Omeprazole’s is fundamental use is to relieve GERD symptoms, acid reflux symptoms, and cure stomach ulcers. In the past, most people didn’t know that these drugs could affect the entire body.

Recent studies, however, suggest that omeprazole may also affect the brain. Research findings from a 2017 study concluded that individuals taking PPI, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), were twice likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety

omeprazole-anxiety

Omeprazole in PPI therapy works to reduce the gastric acid levels in the stomach walls. Prilosec OTC or Zantac are beta-blockers that impact the bacteria of the gut to help reduce gastroesophageal reflux.

Stomach bacteria can alter our brain functioning by increasing or decreasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters and hormones. If you use omeprazole daily, it may increase the likelihood of developing a major depressive disorder. 

The team of researchers that suggested this finding also stated that the risks of clinical depression increase dramatically for specific drugs like pantoprazole. Although the mechanism behind such an occurrence is still quite a mystery, the authors propose that these medications may dysregulate the axis of the stomach.

If you consume omeprazole daily, your blood’s magnesium levels may fall, which will make you feel tired, dizzy, confused, and shakiness. It may also cause your heartbeat to become irregular with muscle twitches.

The dysregulation, in turn, may interfere with the absorption of nutrients after using the drugs. Another theory proposes that omeprazole anxiety occurs for the changes in the brain’s serotonin and dopamine metabolism.

Studies show that decreased serotonin levels in the raphe nucleus of the hippocampus are an underlying cause of omeprazole anxiety. At present, several researchers are trying to demystify the mechanisms of these side effects by investigating the effects of PPI drugs in lab rodents.  

Omeprazole Side Effects

Besides the newly discovered omeprazole anxiety and depression, there are several other side effects of omeprazole that may last a lifetime.

These side effects could be common and easy to deal with than most people who ingest the medication. Other side effects may not be as forgiving and could be severe.

Common Side Effects

The following side effects can be subdued by drinking plenty of fluids, taking rest, and having more frequent meals. Exercising regularly and including more fibers may also help.

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rash and cough

Severe Side Effects

These side effects are rare and only affect every one person in 1000. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult the doctors immediately. 

  • Dark yellow urine (hints liver problems)
  • Anaphylaxis or allergic reaction
  • Granulocytes deficiency in blood
  • Kidney inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Life-threatening epidermal necrolysis

Besides the mentioned side effects, you may also experience loss of appetite, taste changes, abnormal dreams, hair loss, muscle weakness, and gastric plops, among other things.

What Are the Long Term Side Effects of Taking Omeprazole?

If you consume omeprazole daily, your blood’s magnesium levels may fall, which will make you feel tired, dizzy, confused, and shakiness. It may also cause your heartbeat to become irregular with muscle twitches.

The elderly need monitoring for these side effects more significantly than younger individuals. There are several ways to mediate these side effects and minimalize the interaction between them.

Additionally, continued use of omeprazole also raises the risk of more severe symptoms along with the common symptoms. The risk of pneumonia, hypocalcemia, and also hypomagnesemia increase with regular use of omeprazole. It’s concerning to use any medication long-term, especially when it’s available OTC.

Besides, long-term use of omeprazole is also associated with the following side effects.

  • Clostridium Difficile Infection: A bacterial infection that causes severe fever and diarrhea. After several scientific investigations, the FDA put safety alerts on this potential side effect.
  • Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease whose onset can worsen depending on and interacting with the drug.
  • Bone Fractures: When you use omeprazole chronically, the calcium levels in your blood drops. This reduction disrupts your body’s calcium balance as it starts to pull calcium from the bones to make up for the insufficient calcium supply. And so, you may remain at risk for bone fractures.
  • Growths: Some systematic investigations have also linked omeprazole with gastric fundic gland polyps, which are growth usually beginning at the gut lining.

Although rare, the development of duodenum carcinoids (slow-growing tumors) has also been associated with the continued use of omeprazole.

  • Atrophic Gastritis: The prolonged use of omeprazole also indicates an association with the development of atrophic gastritis, which may later lead to vitamin B deficiency. Atrophic gastritis is irritation and swelling of the gut lining.
  • Weight Gain: GERD or acid reflux patients remain at risk for gaining weight with chronic omeprazole use. As doctors often advise these patients to increase food intake to mediate the symptoms better. And so, omeprazole may cause weight gain when if you use it for years.

Omeprazole Withdrawal Anxiety

Omeprazole is a short-term medication, and doctors don’t recommend using it long-term. You may also experience some omeprazole withdrawal symptoms once you’re off it after using it chronically. It may worsen your previous symptoms and also result in dyspepsia or indigestion.

omeprazole-withdrawal-anxiety

Besides, acid reflux, dry mouth, and acid hypersecretion are other outcomes when you discontinue omeprazole. Individuals who are at risk for psychiatric abnormalities may experience anxiety attacks as the gut bacteria changes. In other words, omeprazole anxiety may get worse than before.

Production of inflammatory cytokines heightens, which may alter the secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones. Besides, users also report diarrhea, constipation, depressive symptoms, fatigue, dizziness, and insomnia among several other symptoms upon discontinuing omeprazole.

Scientists haven’t broadly researched the withdrawal symptoms of omeprazole. So, the reasons behind these symptoms are yet to be explored. Nonetheless, some data highlight the emergence of these ‘rebound symptoms’ or symptoms that follow after discontinuing PPI therapy.

One possible explanation is that these symptoms are the body’s reaction to physiological readjustment after treatment. If you use omeprazole over the years, your body will adjust to the ongoing administration. The adjustment might shift the homeostasis.

Omeprazole anxiety may become worse upon discontinuation after prolonged use for acid reflux.

Regardless of the ways the body may adjust to the long-term use of omeprazole, its dosage and duration of treatment are crucial factors in terms of the severity of the side effects. On the bright side, most side effects don’t last too long and fade away without lingering.

Omeprazole and Anxiety Medication

Like all other medications, omeprazole interacts with other substances. Two drugs interact when one influences the cytochrome enzyme that moderates the other. Omeprazole may react moderately, severely, and mildly depending on which drug it is.

Anxiety medications may include alprazolam, clonazepam, and diazepam, among others. These prescription drugs may interact with omeprazole if you use them together.

Anxiety medication is primarily used to treat symptoms of anxiety and sometimes panic disorder. If you have to take anxiolytics and PPI medication together, it’s best to follow the doctor’s instructions.

Various investigations and literature suggest that the interaction between omeprazole and anxiety drugs isn’t severe and is moderate at best. The factors that associate with the severity of interaction patient’s age and the number of medications taken.

The increased and prolonged use of anxiolytics with proton pump inhibitors may increase the benzodiazepines level in blood. Omeprazole may interact with the liver enzymes that are responsible for clearing the benzodiazepines from the body.

As the levels of benzodiazepines increase in the blood, its side effects begin to worsen. The individual taking these medications may experience more confusion, dizziness, sedation, and driving impairments. It may also cause breathing difficulties and drowsiness.

To safely use both drugs, it’s best to have the doctor monitor you or make adjustments with your dosage. In both classes of medication, the most regular offenders are Nexium and Prilosec. Users reported feeling ‘stoned’ on high doses of benzodiazepine besides developing chronic headaches lasting for days.

Another research study investigated the interaction between omeprazole and trazodone. Trazodone is a drug that doctors prescribe for depression, anxiety, or combination. The findings suggested that the interaction between the two caused frequent Wenchebach phenomenon or type 1 atrioventricular block.

The elderly need monitoring for these side effects more significantly than younger individuals. There are several ways to mediate these side effects and minimalize the interaction between them.

Firstly, ensure that you’re taking your dosage as per the instructions of your doctor. It also includes being mindful of when you’re taking your medication. Additionally, it is not the best idea to adjust the doses yourself without consulting your health professional.

It’s crucial to learn how to take the prescribed drug and which condition is optimal for taking it. Besides, it’s also a good idea to fill your prescriptions from the same pharmacy. Looking up what food you should avoid might also help with minimizing interactions between anxiety medications and omeprazole.

Omeprazole is not suitable for long-term use, and it’s best to avoid consuming it for more than ten days to eight weeks. If your condition requires you to take omeprazole for a long time, you’ll want to consider switching to alternative therapy.

Can Omeprazole Make Anxiety Worse?

Many medical professionals may not support the idea that omeprazole can induce anxiety. However, the direction of that notion seems to be changing in light of recent discoveries regarding omeprazole’s effect on the mental state of individuals. So, does omeprazole make anxiety worse? In some cases, yes.

If you’re already predisposed to a psychological condition like anxiety or depression, you may be at a greater risk of making your condition worse. Besides, some people react more severely to drugs, and your case might be one of them.

Omeprazole anxiety may become worse upon discontinuation after prolonged use for acid reflux. Additionally, acid reflux itself has shown some correlations to anxiety and panic attacks. Different users comment on this subject differently as every individual has different metabolisms.

Under these circumstances, the best idea is to consult your general practitioner and go through omeprazole’s side effects thoroughly and see if you correspond to them.

Final Words

Omeprazole OTC is one of the most popular medications for GERD or acid reflux. However, research has linked it with severe anxiety and panic attacks. While the subject is still debatable, many researchers are investigating and exploring why omeprazole may cause such side effects.

FAQs

Can omeprazole help anxiety?

Omeprazole doesn’t usually help with anxiety. On the contrary, it may make your anxiety worse.

Can omeprazole cause anxiety and depression?

Omeprazole may cause anxiety and depressive symptoms. It changes the stomach axis and also interferes with the regulation of some neurotransmitters and hormones. This alteration may contribute to anxiety and depression.

Can omeprazole make you jittery?

Chronic use of omeprazole lowers the magnesium level in the blood and can make you feel jittery and nervous. Low magnesium levels are also responsible for experiencing fatigue and have an irregular heartbeat. Feeling jittery is one of the common side effects of omeprazole.

Can omeprazole affect mood?

The elderly is more at risk for mood alterations. Omeprazole has shown scientific evidence to contribute to low moods and depression.

Does omeprazole have mental side effects?

Yes, omeprazole can cause anxiety, panic, and low moods. Some users report their symptoms getting worse after using omeprazole. Prolonged use of the drug can have many mental side effects in addition to the physical.

Does omeprazole affect serotonin?

Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor. These inhibit the production of the cytochrome P-450 isoenzyme CYP2C19, which metabolizes serotonin.

Do omeprazole side effects go away?

Omeprazole side effects don’t usually linger. Unless you have severe side effects, the common ones will likely go away as you stop taking them.

Can I take omeprazole with antidepressants?

Yes, but there will be a chance of the two drugs interacting. It’s best to ask your doctor what dosage will be suitable for you.

Can omeprazole shorten your life?

Research evidence suggests that chronic use of heartburn medication may contribute to the risk of early death.

Shaila Amaraj

Hey! My name is Shaila. I am a fourth-year medical student all the way from Malaysia. Apart from meeting the patients in the ward, I would love to engage with the readers by writing out articles during my leisure time. Content writing has always had a soft spot in me, as I love spilling out my thoughts that I could actually put into words. I also keep up with my blog on the medical school lifestyle. In fact, writing isn't a hobby, it is a blessing.

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