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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Antianxiety drugs

Definition:
Drugs that are used mainly to reduce tension and suppress anxiety by sedation.
 
Background:
Antianxiety drugs are the most widely prescribed drug by physicians. Millions of people in our society use antianxiety drugs to help them with their daily hassles. The most popular of these drugs are Valium and Xanas. There are three types of these drugs: barbiturates, propanediols and benzodiazepines. Barbiturates provide general relaxation but users must be very cautious as they can be very dangerous if they take too many or combine them with alcohol, and they are highly addictive. Propanediols work by reducing muscular tension associated with agitated types of anxiety, and providing a general calming effect. Benzodiazepines reduce generalized fears and anxiety. These drugs work very well and it is therefore very easy to become psychologically dependent on/addicted to them. There is also a lot of evidence suggesting that these drugs are also physiologically addicting. In general, caution should be applied in the use of these drugs. There a number of side effects associated with these drugs including drowsiness, lightheadedness, nausea and confusion.
 
Further Reading:

Hecht, A. (1986). A guide to the proper use of tranquilizers. Healthline Newsletter., 5-6.

Levenson, A. J. (1981). Basic Psychopharmacology. New York: Springer.

Lickey, M. E., & Gordon, B. (1991). Medicine and mental illness: the use of drugs in psychiatry. New York: W. H. Freeman..

Smith, R. J. (1979). Study finds sleeping pills overprescribed. Science. 204, 287-288.

 
Related Terms:
Generalized anxiety disorder

Psychopharmacotherapy

Self-Instructional Resources:
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