WHAT ARE BENZODIAZEPINES AND HOW DO THEY WORK?
Benzodiazepine anticonvulsants are a class of drugs that are used to treat seizures (convulsions). They mainly work by affecting the gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that nerves release to communicate with other nearby nerves. Studies have shown that people with seizures have dysfunctional GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, inhibits the activity of nerves that would initiate the seizure. Specifically, benzodiazepine anticonvulsants enhance the activity of GABA by binding to it and opening the chloride channel in the GABA neurotransmitter, thus enhancing their anticonvulsant activity.
HOW ARE BENZODIAZEPINES USED?
Benzodiazepines are mainly used for the treatment of:
- Anxiety and panic
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
They are also used for:
- Sedation prior to surgery or diagnostic procedures
- Muscle relaxation
- Panic attacks
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Nausea and vomiting
- Panic attacks
WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF BENZODIAZEPINES?
Some of the common side effects of benzodiazepines include:
- weakness, and
Other side effects include the following.
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Skin rash
- Blurred vision
- Muscle weakness
- Sleep disturbance
- Memory impairment
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. In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, the dose of benzodiazepines should be controlled and prescribed by the doctor.
The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Benzodiazepines may cause physical dependence. Hence, never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.
WHAT ARE DRUG NAMES OF BENZODIAZEPINES?
Generic and brand names of benzodiazepine anticonvulsant drugs include:
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