The primary use of sedative-hypnotic and anxiolytic drugs is to encourage calmness (anxiolytics or sedatives) or to produce sleep (sedative-hypnotics). All people are subject to states of emotional tension and uneasiness. For otherwise healthy individuals, these occasions are usually sufficiently mild and short that pharmacological intervention is unnecessary. However, at times the symptoms of anxiety become quite discomforting and can interfere with a person's ability to function effectively. Anxiety almost invariably accompanies many medical and surgical conditions, and it is often a symptom of psychiatric illness. When the symptoms become intolerable or interfere with the treatment of the underlying disease and if counseling is not sufficient, drug treatment can be considered as a means of helping patients cope with their anxiety.
All central nervous system depressants have some ability to relieve anxiety. However, most of these drugs relieve symptoms of anxiety only at doses that produce noticeable sedation. Drugs used to produce sedation and relieve anxiety are consistently among the most commonly prescribed drugs. Whether they are prescribed too frequently remains a matter of controversy.
Insomnia includes a wide variety of sleep disturbances, such as difficulty in falling asleep, early or frequent awakenings, and remaining unrefreshed after sleep. Use of sedative-hypnotic drugs is one approach to the therapy of insomnia. Other measures include advice to avoid stimulants before retiring, maintenance of a proper diet, initiation of an exercise program, and avoidance of stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.
Most anxiolytic and sedative-hypnotic drugs produce dose-dependent depression of central nervous system function. The ideal anxiolytic drug should calm the patient without causing too much daytime sedation and drowsiness and without producing physical or psycho logical dependence. Similarly, the ideal hypnotic drug should allow the patient to fall asleep quickly and should maintain sleep of sufficient quality and duration so that the patient awakes refreshed without a drug hangover. Also, both types of drugs should have very low toxicity and should not interact with other medications in such a way as to produce unwanted or dangerous effects.
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With all the stresses and strains of modern living, panic attacks are become a common problem for many people. Panic attacks occur when the pressure we are living under starts to creep up and overwhelm us. Often it's a result of running on the treadmill of life and forgetting to watch the signs and symptoms of the effects of excessive stress on our bodies. Thankfully panic attacks are very treatable. Often it is just a matter of learning to recognize the symptoms and learn simple but effective techniques that help you release yourself from the crippling effects a panic attack can bring.