Psychotherapeutic use of benzodiazepines

There are a number of reasons that determine the commercial success of benzodiazepines. First: they effectively help with anxiety and cause sleep. Indeed, benzodiazepines are uniquely effective as tranquilizers. It is true that they weaken anxiety (as was proven in experiments with people and animals) at doses that do not cause movement disorders (ataxia) and depression. For animals, the action of a tranquilizer is tested on determining the ability of a drug to reduce the fear of punishment. In the course of the experiments, rats were trained to press the lever to receive encouragement in the form of food and water.

Then, for a certain period of time, pressing the lever began to be accompanied by an electric discharge. In the remaining periods of time, the electric current was disconnected. As a rule, when there is a punishment for pressing the lever, the rats press it much less frequently. When benzodiazepines are given to already trained animals, the likelihood of pushing the lever in the presence of punishment increases almost to the initial level at doses that do not change the probability in the absence of punishment. The clinical efficacy of various benzodiazepines observed in humans is closely related to such effects, which reduce the fear of punishment, and for this reason, the relief of punishment is regarded as an excellent animal-based model of human anxiety. In fact, new sedatives have been discovered with the help of this model on the basis of the effects facilitating the punishment. Although other depressants also have similar effects, none is as effective in this regard as benzodiazepine. This is one of the reasons why benzodiazepines are considered as drugs with a unique sedative effect.

Strong tranquilizing effects of benzodiazepines occur at doses that produce serious side effects. Although lethargy may appear when taking benzodiazepines, this is less of a problem when compared to those caused by other depressants. Since the lethal dose is very high, the probability of suicide or overdose when taking benzodiazepines is much less than when taking other depressants. However, benzodiazepines increase the effects of alcohol and other depressants, and deaths with such combinations are not uncommon. Therefore, although benzodiazepines are not at all as toxic as barbiturates or methaqualone, for example, they also place people at risk of overdose.

In addition to treating anxiety, benzodiazepines are also used for other purposes. For example, they are used to treat alcoholism. Alcohol and benzodiazepines have some similarities, so avoiding alcohol is more easily tolerated with benzodiazepines. In addition, benzodiazepines have an anticonvulsant effect. They are also used as anesthetics for small-scale and complexity operations, for example, in dentistry, for the treatment of muscle spasms and seizures.

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