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Benzodiazepines

What are 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.


What are the side effects of benzodiazepines?

Drowsiness, sleepiness, or dizziness are the most common side effects reported. This can make it dangerous for people taking benzodiazepines to drive or operate machinery or perform other hazardous tasks. Alcohol may potentiate these effects.


Other commonly reported side effects include:


amnesia (forgetfulness)

confusion

constipation

nausea

sexual dysfunction

unsteadiness when walking or standing

unusually slow and shallow breathing

vision problems (blurred or double vision).

Withdrawal symptoms may occur with abrupt discontinuation – symptoms may include convulsions, cramps, insomnia, sweating, tremors, and vomiting.


Some people develop a paradoxical reaction to benzodiazepines – this is the opposite reaction to what you would expect. They may become agitated or very anxious, develop hallucinations, have difficulty sleeping or exhibit bizarre behavior such as taking off their clothes in public or taking unnecessary risks.



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