Annette (Gbemudu) Ogbru, PharmD, MBA
Dr. Gbemudu received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Nova Southeastern University, her PharmD degree from University of Maryland, and MBA degree from University of Baltimore. She completed a one year post-doctoral fellowship with Rutgers University and Bristol Myers Squibb.
In this Article
- What are benzodiazepines, and how do they work?
- For what conditions are benzodiazepines used?
- Are there differences between benzodiazepines?
- What are the side effects of benzodiazepines?
- With which drugs do benzodiazepines interact?
- What are some examples of benzodiazepines?
Are there differences between benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines differ in how quickly they work, and for what they are most commonly used.
- Diazepam (Valium) and clorazepate (Tranxene) have fast onsets of action,
- oxazepam (Serax) has a slow onset, and
- lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin) have intermediate onsets of action.
Although most benzodiazepines are used interchangeably, some are most commonly used for certain conditions.
- Alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), chlorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and midazolam are used for anxiety disorders;
- clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), and diazepam (Valium) are used for seizure disorders;
- estazolam, flurazepam, quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion) are used for insomnia;
- midazolam, lorazepam (Ativan), and diazepam (Valium) are used in anesthesia;
- diazepam (Valium) also is used for muscle relaxation;
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium) is used for alcohol withdrawal.
What are the side effects of benzodiazepines?
The most common side effects associated with benzodiazepines are:
- weakness, and
Other side effects include:
All benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence. Suddenly stopping therapy after a few months of daily therapy may be associated with withdrawal symptoms which include a feeling of loss of self-worth, agitation, and insomnia. If benzodiazepines are taken continuously for longer than a few months, stopping therapy suddenly may produce seizures, tremors, muscle cramping, vomiting, and sweating. In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, the dose of benzodiazepines should be tapered slowly.
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