Gabapentin and Lyrica have many similarities.
They are in the same class of medication (what’s known as an anticonvulsant). They have similar chemical makeups, they work comparably, and both have been FDA approved for certain uses.
That being said, they aren’t exactly the same and are usually prescribed by doctors for different purposes. Below, we take a closer look at each.
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant, a type of medication used to stop or prevent seizures. Additionally, it’s been FDA approved to treat nerve pain, often after shingles. And though it is prescribed for both of these purposes, doctors also regularly use it for other reasons as well.
Some of the most common off-label uses for this prescription include:
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Hot flashes
- Teeth grinding
In the case of the sleep disorder insomnia, this medication is shown to improve deep sleep and prevent frequent wake-ups in the middle of the night.
Gabapentin is considered a safe medication in many cases and isn’t listed federally as a controlled substance. It may be listed as a controlled substance in certain states though.
Some may experience side effects after trying this medication. Most often, these include drowsiness, dizziness, or feeling spacey.
More rare but still possible side effects can also include:
- Memory loss
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty speaking
- Viral infections
- Double vision
- Unusual eye movements
- Jerky movements
- Changes to mood
Several of these side effects, including unusual eye movements and jerky movements, are more common with Gabapentin than Lyrica.
Additionally, those taking Gabapentin can experience withdrawal symptoms. To help avoid this, your doctor will likely decrease your dose gradually at the end of your treatment rather than having you stop abruptly.
This is a prescription medication and should only be taken after speaking with a doctor. To minimize your chances of experiencing any side effects or withdrawal symptoms make sure to provide your doctor with a complete medical history and take your prescription according to the directions provided.
Lyrica is also an anticonvulsant and is often prescribed to treat both seizures and nerve pain.
Notably, some studies suggest that this medication is more effective than Gabapentin for both of these uses as it’s a more potent medication.
However, Lyrica is more likely to cause certain side effects including dry mouth, constipation, and weight gain.
Other side effects associated with this prescription can include:
- Blurred vision
- Increased appetite
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Red, itchy eyes
- Gas and bloating
- Poor coordination
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Memory problems
Research has shown that Lyrica is absorbed faster and acts more quickly than Gabapentin. Because of this, it is believed by some that Lyrica might have a higher potential for abuse or dependence. It is listed as a controlled substance.
This medication can lead to symptoms of withdrawal. So always be sure to follow the directions as provided by your doctor when ending your treatment to avoid any negative effects.
Which Medication Is Right For Me?
To find out if either of these prescriptions is the right treatment option for you, you’ll need to consult with your doctor.
Though both medications share several similarities, they are prescribed by doctors for different reasons, may cause different side effects, and also may interact differently with other medications you’re taking.
To help your doctor determine the right option for you, make sure to provide a full medical history and a list of all of your medications.
Reviewed by Dr. Alex Dimitriu
Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a Stanford-trained physician with dual board certification in psychiatry and sleep medicine. The included content is not intended to replace medical advice. Always be sure to discuss any prescription medications with your doctor.