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Alzheimer's Disease and Benzodiazepines

Read more about Benzodiazepines.

Overview

Benzodiazepines are a form of anxiolytics or anti-anxiety medicines that are sometimes prescribed for the treatment of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. These are specific benzodiazepines that may be prescribed by a physician.

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)

These drugs help ease symptoms of anxiety, phobias, and excessive motor activity. Benzodiazepines reduce symptoms of anxiety by enhancing the function of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Effect of Benzodiazepines on Alzheimer's Disease

Benzodiazepines produce

  • a sedative effect
  • decrease in physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, and
  • often cause drowsiness and lethargy. They can be habit-forming when used long term or in excess.

Side Effects and Warnings

Do not take with alcohol or other sedating drugs. Do not take if you must drive a vehicle or operate machinery. Benzodiazepines should not be taken in combination with certain oral antifungal medications or by people with certain types of glaucoma.

Possible side effects of benzodiazepines include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Respiratory depression (decreasing breathing)

These drugs should not be used more than prescribed since they may cause or worsen problems with memory, a symptom experienced by most people with Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs should also not be stopped abruptly since serious side effects, such as seizures, may result.

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