Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines (also called “benzos”) are a class of agents that work in the central nervous system and are used for a variety of medical conditions.

They act on specific receptors in the brain, called gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors. Benzodiazepines attach to these receptors and make the nerves in the brain less sensitive to stimulation, which has a calming effect. 

Benzodiazepines may be used to treat: alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, as a muscle relaxant, panic disorder, seizures. Common side effects associated with benzodiazepines are: sedation, dizziness, weakness, and unsteadiness. Other side effects include:  transient drowsiness commonly experienced during the first few days of treatment, a feeling of depression, loss of orientation,  headache, sleep disturbance, confusion, irritability, aggression, excitement, and
memory impairment.

All benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence. Suddenly stopping thereapy after a few months of daily therapy may be associated with withdrawal symtoms, 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.