Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs also know as tranquilizers that acts on the central nervous system and are mainly used to treat different anxiety disorders.
Mechanism of action:
Although the exact mechanism of action is not known these drugs effect the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain. The response to this inhibitory neurotransmitter is enhanced and thus it becomes resistant to excitation.
Common Drugs In this Group:
All benzodiazepines are similar in pharmacological action but have different potencies, and some bezodiazepines work better in the treatment of certain conditions than the other. They are used mainly as sedatives, hypnotics, muscle relaxants, anxiolytics and anticonvulsants. Common drugs in this group include:
- Diazepam etc
Medical Uses: Benzodiazepines may be prescribed for one of these conditions:
- Alcohol Withdrawal
- Sedation prior to surgery or any diagnostic procedure
- Panic disorders
- Muscle spasms
- Decreased alertness and concentration
- Memory impairment
- Improper body balance
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight gain
- Dry mouth
Overdose: Although these are considered to be safe drugs and don’t cause much harm if take alone in overdose but still the statistics show that it may cause death in a very small percentage of people who took it in overdose. Flumazenil is the antidote used for overdose but itself has many side effects and is routinely not recommended.
Contraindication : Because these drugs cause muscle relaxation it may lead to respiratory depression in susceptible individuals. It is contraindicated to be used in:
- Patients with COPD
- Myasthenia gravis patients
- People with personality disorder or intellectual disability
- Caution in the elderly patients
- May lead to increased suicidal tendencies in patients with major depression