Benzodiazepines(A Full guide)

In this brief article, we will be discussing the types of benzodiazepines, the uses of benzodiazepines, and these kinds and some benefits of these benzodiazepines.

What are benzodiazepine medications?

Benzodiazepine medications are considered as sedative medications that can slow down the functions of the body which are used for anxiety and sleep issues.

These kinds of medications work by increasing the neurotransmitter called GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid. 

GABA helps in minimizing the brain parts which had the following functions:

  • logical thinking
  • memory
  • emotions
  • Important living functions such as breathing

The outcomes of benzodiazepines are the following:

  • sedation
  • minimized anxiety
  • muscle sedation

Benzodiazepines are only effective in the short-term but when you keep using these kinds of medications, you might not see the effects that you want.

The explanation for this is that your brain is getting used to the effects of this kind of medication and may be hypersensitive to these medications.

When and how should benzodiazepine medications be used?

Benzodiazepines should only be used to treat chronic anxiety or chronic insomnia that is having a significant effect on your daily life.

Sometimes, the use of these kinds of medications is inappropriate in a particular mental health condition. 

If you are using benzodiazepines to heal your grief about your lost loved one, you may become emotionally numb from the inappropriate use.

However, if you can’t sleep due to grief and anxiety, you can take these kinds of medications to help you sleep.

As mentioned before, benzodiazepines are only effective as short-term treatment and it is even better if you only use this kind of medication in a one-time use.

The doctor would usually advise not to take these kinds of medications for four weeks or take these medications regularly. 

Depending on the patient’s mental health condition, the doctor would often prescribe lower doses of benzodiazepine which is a better treatment option in using this kind of medication.

You can learn more about these kinds of medications by buying this book on this website.

Who shouldn’t take benzodiazepine medications?

It is vital for the doctor to ask about your comorbid physical condition and some medications that you have been using recently before prescribing you with benzodiazepines.

The doctor will be the one to decide if you should take them and how much the dosage will be and what type of these medications will be appropriate for your illness.

Doctors would recommend that you shouldn’t take benzodiazepines when you have the following conditions:

  • chronic lung disease or breathing issues
  • sleep apnoea or breathing issues during sleep
  • chronic liver or kidney disease

You should use benzodiazepines carefully when you have the following conditions:

  • chest and lung issues
  • muscle fatigue, especially a medical condition called myasthenia gravis
  • a background of alcohol or substance abuse
  • a diagnosis of symptoms of a personality disorder

A minimized dose of a benzodiazepine will be given to you if you have the following medical conditions:

  • liver or kidney issues
  • porphyria which is a rare and inherited condition

Benzodiazepines should not be utilized by people who have depression and are not having other treatments for their mental health condition.

  • Children – benzodiazepines are not safe for use with children but these kinds of medications will only be used by these young people if they have insomnia or severe anxiety.

The elderly should be given a lower dose of benzodiazepine to minimize adverse side effects in this population.

What are benzodiazepine medications used for?

Below are some of the uses of benzodiazepines and these conditions have been effectively treated by these kinds of medications

Chronic anxiety

Benzodiazepines can give you a short relief of calmness from your chronic anxiety.

These kinds of medications should never be used for the long-term treatment.

You can learn more about severe anxiety by buying this book on this website.

Panic disorders

A person who is suffering from a panic disorder will be prescribed with benzodiazepines when the following circumstances are met:

  • When you first start taking antidepressant medications or 
  • if you don’t get healing effects from antidepressant medications.

Sleeping

As sedative medications, benzodiazepines can be used for people who are suffering from insomnia.

This mental health condition means that you are having difficulty falling asleep.

You will only be prescribed with benzodiazepines when your insomnia is causing significant distress in your life.

These kinds of medications should only be used for short-term use just like anxiety.

You can even pair up your medication use with this self-help method to treat this kind of sleeping problem.

Short alcohol withdrawal

Benzodiazepines with a long half-life are used to treat people who are suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The doctor may prescribe you to stay in the hospital during your alcohol withdrawal treatment if you have alcohol dependence. 

Alcohol withdrawal without medical interventions may cause seizures which is why it’s important to stay in the hospital during this kind of treatment.

Different types of benzodiazepine medications

2 different groups of medications have been classified as benzodiazepines.

These two classes of medications in this kind of class are hypnotics and anxiolytics.

Hypnotics are benzodiazepines that are only short-acting.

These kinds of medications are only used to treat sleeping issues which may have been the inspiration of the medication’s name.

While anxiolytics are benzodiazepines that are long-lasting in their effects.

These medications are usually taken to treat anxiety issues.

You can learn more about anxiolytics by buying this book on this website.

What are the side effects of benzodiazepine medications?

The side effects of benzodiazepines can be unexpected to most people since it tends to vary depending on the condition being treated using these kinds of medications.

You can ask your doctor about these kinds of effects if you are worried about them happening to you.

Addiction

You are only to be prescribed with benzodiazepines at the shortest amount of time that is possible.

The use of these medications for regular use in a few weeks will create an addiction to these medications. 

Doctors will only prescribe benzodiazepines to be taken for 2-4 weeks.

Gradual use of these medications can minimize the possibility of addiction. 

This means that you don’t take benzodiazepines daily but only in alternate days. 

You are more likely to get addicted to these medications if you have a past with being addicted to drugs or alcohol.

You are also more likely to get addicted to benzodiazepines if you have a personality disorder.

You can learn more about the experience of addiction by buying this book here.

Usual side effects

Typical side effects of benzodiazepines are the following symptoms:

  • drowsiness or sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • confusion
  • numbed feelings
  • minimized awareness
  • muscle fatigue
  • tremor
  • Ataxia such as dysfunction in balance and walking
  • speaking
  • swallowing
  • your motor abilities such as writing and eating
  • vision

If you are an older adult, you may experience frequent falls and fractures when you are using benzodiazepines.

Less usual and unusual side effects

The less typical and rare side effects of benzodiazepines are the following conditions:

  • stomach pain and diarrhoea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • Increased sense of appetite
  • memory loss
  • delusions
  • Aggression

What are the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepine medications?

The withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines are discussed later and these kinds of symptoms are caused by using these kinds of medications for 4-6 weeks.

You need to acknowledge to your doctor if you need to stop taking these kinds of medications after taking these medications for 4-6 weeks. 

Doctors will guide on how to stop taking benzodiazepines after a long duration of time.

You should stop this kind of medication gradually with your doctor’s assistance which is a safer option for you. 

This will happen because your body is getting used to benzodiazepines and you might exhibit withdrawal symptoms from this kind of medication.

The following are some of the physical symptoms of withdrawal from this medication.

  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Stomach issues
  • Flu-like signs
  • Visual issues

The following conditions are the psychological side effects of the withdrawal of benzodiazepines.

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Depersonalisation
  • Issues with memory and concentration
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

When will withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepine medications stop?

The withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines will stop after a couple of weeks.

Some people tend to lose these kinds of symptoms after a long duration of time. 

It is also possible for you to not get withdrawal side effects just by taking benzodiazepines.

You should always speak to your doctor about the withdrawal side effects of these kinds of medications if you’re worried about getting them without you knowing.

How to treat withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines?

You can treat the withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines by using antidepressant medications and mood-regulating medications.

If you have insomnia or other sleeping problems, you should use melatonin instead of this kind of medication.

If you have panic disorder, it is better if you would just engage in therapy while you are waiting for the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines to come off.

Can pregnant women take benzodiazepine medications?

No, pregnant women should not take benzodiazepines.

This is because there is a risk involved for the unborn baby which are the following outcomes:

  • cleft palate
  • urinary tract dysfunctions
  • heart problems
  • stomach problems
  • dyslexia or difficulty in reading and writing
  • dyspraxia or issues with coordination and action
  • autism
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

When pregnant mothers take benzodiazepines at the end of the pregnancy, the infant may have the following symptoms:

  • drowsiness
  • floppy muscles
  • breathing problems
  • cold body temperature
  • withdrawal symptoms such as abnormal sleeping patterns, tremor (shaking), high-pitched crying, vomiting and diarrhoea

New mothers should not breastfeed their babies if they are still taking benzodiazepines since these chemicals can transfer through breast milk and may give the baby some side effects.

Medical interactions with benzodiazepine medications

You always need to tell your doctor if you are taking other medications and the uses of these medications for you.

This is because the interaction of benzodiazepines with other medications may cause additional side effects if the doctor isn’t aware of the combined medication.

Here are some combinations that benzodiazepines have been used to speed up the effects of this kind of medication:

  • Benzodiazepines and antidepressants medications – some doctors would advise that you take benzodiazepines first from antidepressants. This is because these sedative medications are short-lasting or quick, unlike these antidepressant medications. If the antidepressant is showing some effects, you are no longer prescribed with the sedative medication.
  • Benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medications – this interaction is used to treat the severity of psychotic disorders. This interaction is given for short-term use to ease debilitating symptoms such as hallucinations and some disorganized behaviours.

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Conclusion

In this brief article, we will be discussing the types of benzodiazepines, the uses of benzodiazepines, and these kinds and some benefits of these benzodiazepines.

If you have any inquiries about benzodiazepines and information on benzodiazepines, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your questions.

FAQs: Benzodiazepines

Do benzos damage your brain?

Benzos don’t damage the brain when taken for medical purposes but when taken for addiction, it may not only damage your brain but it may damage your life.

It is better if you just followed what the doctor has prescribed for you in using these medications.

What is considered the long-term use of benzodiazepines?

The long-term use of benzodiazepines is when the user gets dependent and tolerant of these kinds of drugs leading to the endless spiral of addiction.

This is called benzodiazepine abuse.

This can lead to sedative side effects that can affect your function in life.

Does benzo withdrawal get better?

Benzo withdrawal can get better once the remnants of the drug are completely purged from the body.

This can be done by using medical procedures that are designed to get rid of benzo withdrawal.

This can also help the patient to have a better quality of life.

What does benzo withdrawal feel like?

Benzo withdrawal will feel like you are having headaches, muscle pains, irritability, loss of appetite, confusion, concentration difficulties, and long-term depression in the duration of this kind of withdrawal.

Do benzos affect memory?

Benzos can affect memory.

They can cause anterograde amnesia if the person overdosed on these kinds of medications.

This means that the person who abuses benzos will become less likely to learn more

Citations

DrugWise. Benzodiazepines.

Harvard Health Publishing. Benzodiazepines (and the alternatives).

MedicalNewsToday. The benefits and risks of benzodiazepines.

Mind. Sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers.

Rethink Mental Illness. Benzodiazepines.

WebMD. Benzodiazepine Abuse.

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