Until the twentieth century, the usual method of preventing the symptoms of anxiety was drinking alcohol, probably the oldest method of sedation.
Up to the 1950s, anxiety was treated with bromine salts (which are sold without a prescription) and barbiturates. The latter reduced the symptoms of anxiety due to the general suppression of all body tissues, but most of all of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. In the 1930s. Scientists have discovered that using bromides has many side effects and can cause toxic poisoning. Barbiturates such as phenobarbital have been used more frequently as tranquilizers. However, it soon became apparent that they were rapidly developing physical dependence, and refusing to accept them had serious consequences. As a result, attempts were made to create a tranquilizer that effectively treated the anxiety, but did not affect the physiology. Meprobamate was the first in the developed group of non-barbitrate drugs, but later it turned out that it also has side effects. The search for a safer tranquilizer continued.
Development of benzodiazepines
In the early 1950s, scientists from Rocher Laboratories synthesized a new group of compounds called benzodiazepines. Tests with these drugs on animals showed soothing and relaxing effects similar to those of barbiturates. An additional feature of the group of compounds was the effect of “taming”, observed in monkeys. In addition, the intriguing moment was the low toxicity of the drugs: the lethal dose was so great that it was difficult to achieve. The first of the benzodiazepines chlordiazepoxide (Librium) was invented in 1960. This was followed by the discovery of his stronger fellow dizepam (Valium) in 1963. These two drugs quickly took the lead in the market for medicines for anxiety and insomnia. By 1970, they were among the medical “bestsellers” in America. More than one hundred million prescriptions were written only on benzodiazepines alone in 1975. Today, due to widespread anxiety associated with dependence on these drugs, their consumption has dropped markedly. However, there are a number of new benzodiazepines (see Table 7-1) that are actively used.