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Dr. Vijayakumar D.R MBBS, DPM, DNB (NIMHANS), CCST (UK)
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Antianxiety Drugs (Anxiolytics)

PATIENT INFORMATION ON ANTIANXIETY DRUGS (ANXIOLYTICS)

The name of your medication is benzodiazepines

Use

This medication is used to treat symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety is a universal human response to stress and is considered necessary for effective functioning and coping with daily activities. It may, however, be a symptom of many other disorders, both medical and psychiatric. There are many different types of anxiety and there are many different approaches to treating it. Anxiolytics will help relieve the symptoms of anxiety but will not alter its cause. In usually prescribed doses, they help to calm and sedate the individual; in high doses these drugs may be used to induce sleep. 

How quickly will the drug start working?

Anxiolytics drugs can reduce agitation and induce calm or sedation usually within an hour. Sometimes they have to be given by injection, or dissolved under the tongue, for a quicker effect. 

How long should you take this medication?

Anxiety is usually self-limiting; often when the cause of anxiety is treated or eliminated, symptoms of anxiety will decrease. Therefore, anxiolytics are usually prescribed for a limited period of time. Many individuals take the medication only when needed (during periods of excessive stress) rather than on a daily basis.

Tolerance or loss of effectiveness can occur in some individuals if they are used continuously beyond 4 months. If you have been taking the medication for a continuous period of time , the physician may try to reduce the dose of this drug slowly to see if the anxiety symptoms return; if not, the dosage may be further reduced and you may be advised to stop using this medication. Do not increase the dose or stop the drug without consulting with your doctor. Some patients need to use an anxiolytics drug for longer time periods, because of the type of anxiety they may be experiencing. Others require it only from time to time, i.e., PRN or on as need basis.

Side effects

Side effects occur, to some degree, with all medication. They are usually not serious and do not occur in all individuals. Most will decrease or disappear with time. If a side effect continues, continues to your doctor about appropriate treatment

Common side effects that can occur with anxiolytics drugs include:

  • Drowsiness and lethargy this problem goes away with time, or when the dose is reduced. Use of other drugs that make you drowsy will worsen the problem. Avoid driving a car or operating machinery if drowsiness persists.
  • Muscle in coordination, weakness or dizziness-Inform your doctor; an adjustment in your dosage may be needed.
  • Forgetfulness, memory lapses-Inform your doctor.
  • Slurred speech-An adjustment in your dosage may be needed.
  • Nausea or heartburn-If this happens, take the medication with food.

Less common side effects that you should report to your physician IMMEDIATELY include:

  • Disorientation, confusion , worsening of your memory, periods of blackouts or amnesia
  • Nervousness, excitement or any behavior changes
  • In coordination leading to falls
  • Skin rash

Let your doctor know as soon as possible if you miss your period or suspect you may be pregnant

Precautions

  1. Do not increase your dose without consulting your doctor
  2. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking other drugs, including over-the-counter medication such as cold remedies
  3. This drug may impair the mental and physical abilities required for driving a car or operating machinery. Avoid these activities if you feel drowsy or slowed down.
  4. This drug may increase the effects of alcohol , making you more sleepy, dizzy and lightheaded
  5. Do not stop taking the drug suddenly, especially if you have been on the medication for a number of months or have been taking high doses. Anxiolytics need to be withdrawn gradually to prevent withdrawal reactions.
  6. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages (I. e., more than 4 cups of coffee, 6 cups of tea or cola) as it may counteract the beneficial effects of the anxiolytics.
  7. Store your medication in a clean, dry area at room temperature. Keep all medication out of the reach of children. 

If you have any questions regarding this medication, do not hesitate to contact your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse