Benzodiazepines2 min read

What are benzo's & their side effects?
What are benzo’s & their side effects?

What are benzodiazepines, and how do they work?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety, but they also are effective in treating several other conditions. The exact mechanism of action of benzodiazepines is not known, but they appear to work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, chemicals that nerves release in order to communicate with other nearby nerves. One of these neurotransmitters is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that suppresses the activity of nerves. Scientists believe that excessive activity of nerves may be the cause of anxiety and other psychological disorders, and benzodiazepines reduce the activity of nerves in the brain and spinal cord by enhancing the effects of GABA.

For what conditions are benzodiazepines used?

Benzodiazepines are used for treating:

anxiety and panic
seizures (convulsions), and
insomnia or trouble sleeping.

They also are used for:

general anesthesia,
sedation prior to surgery or diagnostic procedures,
muscle relaxation,
alcohol withdrawal and drug associated agitation,
nausea and vomiting,
depression, and
panic attacks.

Alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), chlorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and midazolam are used for anxiety disorders.

Clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), lorazepam (Ativan), clobazam (Onfi), and diazepam (Valium) are used for seizure disorders.

Estazolam (Prosom), flurazepam (Dalmane), quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion) are used for insomnia or trouble sleeping.

Midazolam (Versed), lorazepam (Ativan), and diazepam (Valium) are used in anesthesia.
Diazepam (Valium) also is used for muscle relaxation.

Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) is used for alcohol withdrawal.

Side Effects

Most common:

unsteadiness (especially in older people, who may have falls and injure themselves as a result)
slurred speech
muscle weakness
memory problems
nausea (feeling sick)
dry mouth
blurred vision

Less common:

low blood pressure
increased saliva production
digestive disturbances
sight problems (such as double vision)
tremors (shaking)
changes in sexual desire
incontinence (loss of bladder control)
difficulty urinating

Also reported:

blood disorders
jaundice (yellow skin)
breast development in men

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