By 1977, benzodiazepine became the most commonly prescribed medicines worldwide; they still remain widely used throughout the world. These are highly effective drugs for a wide range of conditions, from insomnia to anxiety and depression (1). For patients with milder conditions, the benefits of these drugs are often overshadowed by the side effects they produce. Some common benzodiazepine side effects are drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, decreased libido, depression, and upset stomach. More severe side effects include aggressiveness, mania, aggressiveness, hallucinations, hostility, memory loss, and nausea. Benzodiazepine addiction is possible, especially if dosages are stopped abruptly; this is often the case with recreational users (2).
The benzodiazepine family includes various chemical structures, including diazepam, alprazolam, dolpropran, lofexidine, betahydrocodone, bromazepam, and lorazepam (3). The chemical structure of diazepine is similar to that of Lofexidene, a member of the same family. The major difference between diazepine and Lofexidene is that Lofexidene has a longer alpha-block tail, which is much shorter than the tail of diazepine. This means that diazepine can be taken as a prescription medication and that long-term use of diazepine does not have harmful long-term effects.
Other benzodiazepine compounds in the family are tricyclic, and alprazolam (4)(5). It is believed that these compounds work on the nervous system through the benzodiazepine ring; they work together via interactions with specific receptor sites on brain cells. The majority of benzodiazepine patients will find that their symptoms are reduced immediately after stopping their medication. However, long-term use of these drugs can cause certain side effects, which can include memory loss, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, agitation, and depression (6)(7).
The benzodiazepine ring in the body has multiple actions, which are necessary for the treatment of a patient with any type of medical illness. These actions include direct and indirect cholinergic activity, which can cause constriction of blood vessels and is responsible for the constriction of arteries. As a result of this action, oxygen is carried more efficiently throughout the body, speeding up metabolism. The decreased rate of oxygen consumption is one of the main causes of hypotension. In addition, benzodiazepine reduces the constriction of the arteries, allowing fluid to move more freely and speeding up detoxification of waste products.
Benzodiazepine also affects the limbic system and hypothalamus, through actions on alpha-aminobutyric acid receptors (8). This latter type of receptor controls physiological functions such as temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It may be that the constant flooding of these chemicals into the system leads to an increased heart rate and increased pumping. The increased metabolic rate could also lead to weight gain. While most people associate weight gain with a low metabolism, it is possible that there is a disconnect between the hypothalamus and the limbic system due to excessive amounts of glucose entering the system.
Some Side Effects
Like all medications, there are potential side effects associated with benzodiazepines (9). If you experience difficulty sleeping, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, dry mouth, or stomach upset, you should discontinue use. This is especially true if the dosage is stopped abruptly. You may experience respiratory depression during periods of benzodiazepine use as well. If you have asthma, experiencing shortness of breath while on the drug is not uncommon, although this rarely occurs.
Some common side effects include increased appetite, nervousness, restlessness, sweating, flushing, memory loss or impaired thinking, nausea or vomiting, cold hands or feet, urinary retention, and increased urge to urinate. While these side effects may vary from patient to patient, they are cause for concern because they can potentially lead to more serious conditions such as diabetes. You should discuss these possible side effects with your doctor. If you experience none of these symptoms, you probably don’t need the medication.
Although benzodiazepine has helped millions of people manage their problems, it is important to note that it should not be considered a cure. Do not think that you can become completely relaxed and calm without worry of withdrawal. Withdrawal can be very dangerous and may result in death. That being said, if your doctor recommends that you take this type of drug therapy, you should follow his or her recommendations. With care and close supervision from your doctor, you can find relief from your symptoms.