Side Effects of Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines, including alprazolam (Xanax), temazepam (Nocturne), diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan), treat symptoms associated with anxiety and seizure disorders. Like alcohol, the drugs work by augmenting the function of the brain chemical messenger GABA. Not surprisingly, the side effects of Benzodiazepines that occur after use mirror those occurring with alcohol. Individuals may experience drowsiness or poor retention of information, and longer-term, physical-psychological dependence. Withdrawal syndrome can also emerge in outpatients abruptly discontinuing treatment.
Sedation and Nausea
People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress or obsessive-compulsions benefit from the tranquilizing side effects of benzodiazepines. However, when exaggerated, these effects may interfere with daily activities, causing vertigo and confusion or wholesale sedation. Drowsiness induced by benzodiazepines can impair motor coordination, making it more difficult to drive a car or disrupt concentration at work. Changes in visual acuity or slurred speech sometimes follow. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland. Individuals taking drugs will also tend to experience general stomach unrest. They may feel nauseous, have discomfort digesting food, lose their appetite or develop constipation.
Patients suffering from seizures as a consequence of head injury or an epilepsy syndrome benefit from the anticonvulsant side effects of benzodiazepines. Clonazepam (Klonopin) designates the benzodiazepine of choice for this indication. Seizures occur when the balance of excitation and inhibition in the brain tilts toward too much excitation. The ability of benzodiazepines to curtail seizure activity derives from their ability to amplify GABA, an inhibitory signal that decreases the rate at which neurons fire. However, neural circuits need to maintain a certain level of excitation (and excitatory bursting) to process and retrieve factual information. Sustained benzodiazepine use has the potential to reduce circuit excitability enough to interfere with universal forms of learning and memory.
Drug Dependence and Withdrawal
Individuals taking benzodiazepines for prolonged periods of time can develop a psychological dependence on drugs. Addiction occurs especially in people treated for insomnia or stress-related illness and can occur in “innocuous” situations where elderly patients are provided chronic pain management or end-of-life-care. In a review article published in “Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior,” Drs. Licata and Rowlett of Harvard Medical School suggest that physical dependence underscores the psychological addiction. For instance, sudden cessation of benzodiazepine treatment can result in a withdrawal syndrome characterized by tremors, heightened anxiety and sleep disturbances. The severity of withdrawal correlates with the duration of benzodiazepine use and dosage: the longer the use and higher the dose, the more severe the symptoms.
Function of Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are using for different health issues, such as sleep disorders, anxiety, including and alcohol withdrawal. When someone feels overly anxious, the brain becomes excited and over-active. Tranquilizing transmitters quickly send messages to brain cells, slowing down activity in the brain and reducing the symptoms of anxiety. GABA is the tranquilizing neurotransmitter, and billions of brain cells respond to its signals. Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA. The drugs contain chemicals that add to the calming effect already produced by the human body and keep the brain in a more tranquilized state.
Overdose of Benzodiazepines
The most common symptoms of benzodiazepine overdose are central nervous system intoxication and depression with impaired balance and movement control. Slurred speech will also be a sign.
Benzodiazepine overdose is rarely fatal unless the drugs are mixed with opioids, alcohol, barbiturates, or tricyclic antidepressants. And Flumazenil can be used as an antidote, but more often than not, the person experiencing an overdose is observed and supported until the body has naturally cleared the drug. So, do not overdose it to reduce anxiety.