This is part of a psych meds 101 series written from my perspective as mental health nurse, ex-pharmacist, and psych med users. Previous posts have covered antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. Much of this post will focus on the benzodiazepine class of medications, but I’ll also cover other meds used for anxiety.
Benzos bind to GABA-A receptors on neurons to boost the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which exerts a calming effect on the brain. GABA counteracts the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Besides being used for anxiety, benzos are used for acute management of seizures and alcohol withdrawal. Very rapid- and short-acting benzos like midazolam may be used for procedural sedation. Despite their downsides, benzodiazepines (benzos for short) work for anxiety. They work very well, and they work quickly. And that’s what makes them so darn problematic.
Duration of action
Drugs within the benzodiazepine class differ considerably…
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