Health Encyclopedia > Medications

Benzodiazepines for Social Anxiety Disorder

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
alprazolam Xanax
chlordiazepoxide Librium
clonazepam Klonopin
diazepam Valium
lorazepam Ativan
oxazepam Serax

How It Works

Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers (sedatives) that prevent or reduce anxiety, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, seizures, and other problems by slowing down the central nervous system.

Why It Is Used

Benzodiazepines are used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension linked with anxiety disorders.

How Well It Works

Benzodiazepines are effective at reducing anxiety and nervous tension linked with social anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Confusion.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Memory loss.
  • Tolerance (your body keeps needing more of the medicine to get the same effect).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on clonazepam (Klonopin) and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using this medicine. Instead, people who take clonazepam should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take clonazepam and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Women who use this medicine during pregnancy may have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised June 13, 2013

Last Revised: June 13, 2013

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