Central nervous system depressant

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants) are a category of pharmaceuticals that decrease neuronal activity in the brain. They are often used to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms.

Mechanism of Action[edit | edit source]

CNS depressants work by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity. This results in a reduction in brain activity and a calming or sedating effect.

Types of CNS Depressants[edit | edit source]

There are three main types of CNS depressants: benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and non-benzodiazepine sleep medications.

Benzodiazepines[edit | edit source]

Benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They include drugs such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and lorazepam (Ativan).

Barbiturates[edit | edit source]

Barbiturates are used to treat seizures, anxiety, and insomnia. They include drugs such as phenobarbital (Luminal) and secobarbital (Seconal).

Non-Benzodiazepine Sleep Medications[edit | edit source]

Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications are used to treat insomnia. They include drugs such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata).

Risks and Side Effects[edit | edit source]

While CNS depressants can be effective in treating certain conditions, they also carry risks and side effects. These can include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and memory loss. In addition, long-term use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

See Also[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD