November 2017

November 27, 2017

Hypnotics and anxiolytics

Most anxiolytics (sedatives) will induce sleep when given at night and most hypnotics will sedate when given during the day. Prescribing of these drugs is widespread but dependence (both physical and psychological) and tolerance occurs. This may lead to difficulty in withdrawing the drug after the patient has been taking it regularly for more than a few weeks. Hypnotics and anxiolytics should, therefore, be reserved for short courses to alleviate acute conditions after causal factors have been established. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly used anxiolytics and hypnotics; they act at benzodiazepine receptors which are associated with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Older drugs such as meprobamate and barbiturates are not recommended—they have more side-effects and interactions than benzodiazepines and are much more dangerous in overdosage.
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