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Benzodiazepines & their effects

 

 

 

                                                        Figure 1a                        Audio                   Figure 1b

                          benzos 1  clonazepam

 

 

Figures 1a & 1bare examples of some of the types of presentations of prescribed Benzodiazepines. Whilst useful for short term treatment of anxiety, agitation or insomnia, lengthy use can result in serious dependence and alterations to psychosocial functioning. When combined with alcohol or other similar substances, decreased levels of consciousness can occur with suppression of vital bodily functions such as respirations. Withdrawal from these drugs can often result in the recurrence & worsening of the symptoms for which it was originally prescribed or used.

 

 

Benzodiazepines affect the neurotransmitter GABA, by attaching to receptors in the synapse and interfering with GABA functioning and regulation of neuronal transmission. This primarily takes place in the cerebral cortex of the brain.Approximately 40% of brain cells respond to GABA. In its intended‘natural’ neurological purpose, GABA has the effect of‘settling’ or‘calming’ the brain when overactive, as indicated in anxiety and‘panic attacks’. Benzodiazepines, as such can be considered as enhancing GABA’s effect. By adding the calming chemicals of Benzodiazepines, a greater number of brain cells are affected. This results in the inhibition or suppression of excitatory transmitters that control‘normal’ alertness, emotion, co-ordination, heart rate, blood pressure & memory. Physical changes to the levels, production and effectiveness of GABA can result from the prolonged use of Benzodiazepines. These physiological changes are termed as‘tolerance’ and therefore‘dependence’ on the drug to maintain a perceived sense of‘normality’. The use of Benzodiazepines as an adjunct to the treatment of depression is fraught with potential dangers. As alcohol and other similar agents are often used by the individual to manage their emotional instability, the addition of Benzodiazepines can provide a life threatening cocktail. Many suicides and attempted suicides have involved these substances.

 

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