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Panic Disorder and Benzodiazepines

Written by sshowalter, ritasharma.

Benzodiazepines relieve symptoms of panic disorder by enhancing the function of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter thought to be abnormal in people with anxiety disorders. (This is also a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder.)

Common names include:

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Prazepam (Centrax)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Halazepam (Paxipam)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)

Effect of Benzodiazepines on Panic Disorder

These drugs produce a sedative effect, relieve physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, and often cause drowsiness and lethargy. The advantage of benzodiazepines is that they are fast-acting and useful for treating acute anxiety and panic attacks, as well as insomnia.

These drugs can be habit-forming when used long-term or in excess, in which case they may cause withdrawal symptoms such as “rebound panic,” anxiety, irritability, and insomnia when discontinued. If you have previously had a problem with substance abuse (alcoholism, drug addiction), discuss with your doctor whether or not you should use benzodiazepines. Therefore, when stopping the medication, you should slowly taper off over a period of weeks or months under a doctor’s supervision.

Read more details about Benzodiazepines.

How to Use Benzodiazepines

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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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