Module 10 - Medications and other Physical Treatments

Hypnotics and Anxiolytics

Benzodiazepines (BZDs) such as diazepam (Valium) and temazepam (Temaze) are the main drugs used for their hypnotic and anxiolytic effects. The shorter acting drugs tend to be used for hypnotic effects and the longer acting drugs for their anxiolytic effects. BZDs are also used for acute behavioural disturbance and to reduce the distress and agitation associated with mood disorders and psychotic illness. It is generally recommended that treatment with benzodiazepines is for short periods of time to prevent the tolerance developing (meaning that increased doses are required to gain the same effect) and dependence to these drugs, which can occur as commonly as in the general population. Whilst BZDs can provide symptomatic relief in anxiety and related disorders, antidepressant medications and psychological therapies are more effective in the longer term. Side effects include sedation, confusion, amnesia, blurred vision, difficulty walking and talking, gastric upset, jaundice and increased risk of accidents. In a small number of people they can cause paradoxical excitation and disinhibition. Disinhibition is reported to be more likely in people with intellectual disability and in those with a history of impulse and anger problems.  
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