Benzodiazepines are man-made medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and sedation (drowsiness).

Seizuresanxiety, and other diseases that require benzodiazepine treatment may be caused by excessive activity of nerves in the brain. These drugs may work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Gamma-aminobutyric acid reduces the activity of nerves in the brain and increasing the effect of GABA with a benzodiazepine, reduces brain activity.

Benzodiazepine side effects

Common side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  • Memory impairment
  • Improper body balance
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced libido
  • Fatigue

Serious side effects include:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Dependence and abuse
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Suicide
  • Slow heart rate
  • Severe low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Akathisia (a movement disorder)
  • Increased heart rate