Benzodiazepine Drug Information
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.
- 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?
- What are the dangers of benzodiazepine addiction?
- What are the dangers of benzodiazepine withdrawal?
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.
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