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What Works For Anxiety Disorders–Anti-Anxiety Drugs

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The Side Effects Of Common Psychiatric Drugs: Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Submitted by on November 30, 2010 – 1:28 am | 922 views

The Side Effects Of Common Psychiatric Drugs: Anti-Anxiety Drugs

(Called Minor Tranquilizers, Benzodiazepines or Sedative Hypnotics)

Brand Names (Generic Names):

Ambien (zolpidem)

Ativan (lorazepam)

Azene (clorazepate)

BuSpar (buspirone)

Centrax (prazepam)

Champix (varenicline – in the UK)

Chantix (varenicline – in the U.S.)

Dalmane (flurazepam)

Doral (quazepam)

Equanil (meprobamate)

Halcion (triazolam)

Klonopin (clonazepam)

Lexotan (bromazepam)

Librax (chlordiazepoxide and flidinium)

Librium (chlordiazepoxide)

Lunesta (eszopiclone)

Miltown (meprobamate)

Niravam (alprazolam)

Paxipam (halazepam)

Placidyl (ethchlorvynol)

Prosom (estazolam)

Reapam (prazepam)

Restoril (temazepam)

Rivotril (clonazepam)

Rohypnol (

Rozerem (ramelteon)

Serax (ozazepam)

Serepax ()

Serestra (oxazepam)

Sonata (zaleplon)

Stesolid ()

Stilnox (zolpidem)

Temesta (lorazepam)

Tranxene (clorazepate)

Valium (diazepam)

Versed (midazolam)

Verstran (prazepam)

Vistaril (hydroxyzine)

Xanax (alprazolam)

Side Effects:

Acute hyperexcited states

Aggressive behavior

Agitation

Agranulocytosis (condition affecting white blood cells causing susceptibility to infection)

Akathisia

Amnesia

Anxiety

Blurred vision

Changes in appetite

Changes in sex drive or ability

Chest pain

Confusion

Constipation

Diarrhea

Difficulty urinating

Disorientation

Dry mouth

Epileptic seizures and death have resulted from suddenly stopping

Fast or irregular heartbeat

Fatigue

Fear

Feeling that the throat is closing

Fever

Frequent urination

Hallucinations

Hangover effect (grogginess)

Headache

Heartburn

Hives

Hoarseness

Hostility

Increased salivation

Insomnia

Irritability

Itching

Jaundice

Jaw, neck, and back muscle spasms

Lethargy

Liver problems

Memory impairment

Muscle tremors

Nausea

Nightmares

Numbness

Problems with coordination

Psychosis

Rage

Restlessness or excitement

Sedation

Seizures

Severe depression

Severe skin rash

Sexual problems

Shuffling walk

Sleep disturbances

Slow or difficult speech

Slurred speech

Stomach pain

Suicide attempt

Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat

Talkativeness

Tiredness

Transient amnesia

Tremors

Unusual movements of the head or neck muscles

Upset stomach

Vomiting

Weakness

Weight changes115

General Warnings And Studies On Anti-Anxiety Drugs:

Daily use of therapeutic doses of benzodiazepines is associated with physical dependence.

Addiction can occur after 14 days of regular use.116 The withdrawal from drugs like Valium

“is more prolonged and often more difficult than [withdrawal from] heroin,” Dr. Conway

Hunter, Jr. of Atlanta’s Peachford Hospital stated in 1979. In 2008, Dr. Patrick Holford

from the UK wrote “How To Quit Tranquilizers” and said, withdrawal and tolerance to

benzodiazepines “describe an addiction that can be as difficult as heroin to break.”117

The typical consequences of withdrawal are anxiety, depression, sweating, cramps,

nausea, psychotic reactions and seizures. There is also a “rebound effect” where the

individual experiences even worse symptoms than they started with as a result of chemical

dependency.118

1990-1996: Benzodiazepines caused 1,810 deaths in Britain, making them more lethal

than heroin, cocaine and methadone, which combined accounted for 1,623 deaths.119

1997: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that

elderly people taking benzodiazepines for anxiety or insomnia were at increased risk for

motor vehicle crashes. Brenda Hemmelgarn, M.N., Samy Suissa, Ph.D., and colleagues

from McGill University and Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, studied 224,734

drivers aged 67 to 84 years and determined a 45% increased rate of motor vehicle crashes

involving injuries for elderly patients during the first seven days of taking a long-acting

form of benzodiazepine.120

2001: A British study reported an “increase in hostility and aggression may be reported by

patients taking benzodiazepines. The effects range from talkativeness and excitement to

aggressive and antisocial acts.”121

February 2001: British professor C. Heather Ashton reported cases of babybattering,

wife-beating and “grandmother-bashing” could be attributed to people taking

benzodiazepines.122

March 2005: The UK government’s House of Commons (Parliament) Health Committee

released findings of its inquiry into benzodiazepines and reported the side effects “are

now known to include excessive sedation, decreased attention, amnesia and sometimes

intractable dependence. Abrupt cessation can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms,

including convulsions in some patients. Short-term treatment and a long tapering period is

now recommended to limit these risks.”123

January 2008: The Journal of Clinical Nursing published an article entitled, “Falls and

Fall Risk Among Nursing Home Residents,” that concluded, “A higher intake of medicine

was associated with an increase in fractures and thus with more serious consequences of

falls which jeopardize these patients’ safety. Although freedom-restricting actions cannot

eliminate falls totally, our results support the hypothesis that they might be protective when

used selectively together with fewer sedatives, especially benzodiazepines.”124

Warnings and Studies on Specific Anti-anxiety Drugs:

Champix (varenicline in the UK):

December 14, 2007: The British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

in conjunction with the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) published a warning that

stated: “Doctors are already aware of the risk of using Champix [a benzodiazepine-based

drug, promoted for smoking cessation] in patients who have an underlying mental illness.

They also need to be aware of the possibility that patients who are trying to stop smoking

can develop symptoms of depression, and they should advise their patients accordingly.

Patients who are taking Champix and develop suicidal thoughts should stop their treatment

and contact their doctor immediately.”125

Chantix (varenicline in the U.S.):

November 20, 2007: The FDA issued “Early Communication About an Ongoing Safety

Review Varenicline (marketed as Chantix, a benzodiazepine based drug, promoted for

smoking cessation).” The FDA warned that drug companies had reported incidents of

suicidal thoughts, aggressive and erratic behavior, and drowsiness in patients who had

taken Chantix.126

February 1, 2008: The FDA warned that serious neuropsychiatric symptoms had occurred

in patients taking Chantix. The drug can cause changes in behavior, agitation, depressed

mood, suicidal ideation, and attempted and completed suicide.127

ROHYPNOL (flunitrazepam):

Note: The U.S. has not approved Rohypnol for medical use. It is legally sold in Latin

America and Europe for insomnia and is smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico and South

America.

A 2000 Swedish study of 47 juvenile delinquents found that 40% were acute abusers of

a minor tranquilizer, Rohypnol—known as the “fear reducer” and “date rape” drug—that

enabled them to commit extremely violent crimes. Abusers showed no guilt about their

violent offenses: “When I stabbed him, it felt like putting a knife into butter,” states the

report. “I didn’t feel any emotion when I stabbed him five times,” a teenager reported.128

It is also known as a “club drug,” a general term for a number of illicit drugs, primarily

synthetic, that are most commonly encountered at nightclubs and “raves.” The drugs have

gained popularity primarily due to the false perception that they are not as harmful, nor as

addictive, as mainstream drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The drug chemically induces

amnesia and often causes decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances,

dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances, and urinary retention.129

Stilnox (AMBIEN, zolpidem):

Zolpidem is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic prescribed often for insomnia. It includes

Adormix, Ambien, Edluar, Damixan, Hyprogen, Invelald, Lioran, Nytamel, Sanval,

Stilnoct, Stilnox, Sucedeal, Zoldem, Zolnod and Zolphihexal.

February 21, 2008: The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) imposed a

boxed warning in the product information for medicines containing zolpidem (Stilnox). The

boxed warning stated: “Zolpidem may be associated with potentially dangerous complex

sleep-related behaviors which may include sleep walking, sleep driving and other bizarre

behaviors. Zolpidem is not to be taken with alcohol. Caution is needed with other CNS

[Central Nervous System] depressant drugs. Limit use to four weeks maximum under close

medical supervision.” The TGA said it would carry warnings of possible side effects,

“including rage reactions, worsening insomnia, confusion, agitation, hallucinations and

other forms of unwanted behavior.”130

May 7, 2008: The FDA approved safety labeling revisions to advise of the risks for

abnormal thinking and behavioral changes in patients taking zolpidem and other sedativehypnotic

drugs. Use of sedative-hypnotics in primarily depressed patients has been

linked to worsening depression, including suicidal thoughts and actions and completed

suicide. Behavioral changes include “sleep-driving.” The FDA also warned that rare cases

of angioedema (allergic skin disease) have been reported in patients taking the first or

subsequent doses of sedative-hypnotics. Symptoms can include throat closing, or nausea

and vomiting requiring emergency care. Because airway obstruction can cause death, patients in whom angioedema develops after taking zolpidem should not be “rechallenged

with the drug.”131

XANAX (alprazolam):

December 1990: Dr. John Steinberg, medical director of the Chemical Dependency

Program at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and president of the Maryland Society of

Addiction Medicine, confirmed that patients taking one Xanax tablet each day for several

weeks could become addicted. Further, after a patient stops taking Xanax, it takes the brain

six to eighteen months to recover. Xanax patients should be warned, he said, that it could

take a long time to get over painful withdrawal symptoms.132

1984: A study of Xanax, “Extreme anger and hostile behavior emerged from eight of the

first 80 patients we treated with alprazolam [Xanax]. The responses consisted of physical

assaults by two patients, behavior potentially dangerous to others by two more, and verbal

outbursts by the remaining four.” The study reported that a woman who had no history of

violence before taking Xanax “erupted with screams on the fourth day of taking alprazolam

treatment, and held a steak knife to her mother’s throat for a few minutes.”133

1985: Another study found that more than half of the Xanax study group experienced

“dyscontrol,” meaning violence or loss of control of aggressive behavior. The violence

included “deep neck cuts…wrist cuts…tried to break own arm…threw chair at child…arm

and head banging…jumped in front of a car.”134

2001: Drug experts said Xanax is more addictive than most illegal drugs, including cocaine

or heroin, and once someone is hooked, getting off it can be a tortuous and even deadly

experience.135

July 2005: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

issued a report called “Under the Counter: The Diversion and Abuse of C ontrolled

Prescription Drugs in the U.S.” stating that 15 million Americans were getting high on

prescription drugs, painkillers and psychiatric drugs such as Xanax and the stimulants

Ritalin and Adderall. They were abusing these drugs more than cocaine, heroin and

methamphetamines combined. Teens who abused prescription drugs were 12 times likelier

to use heroin, 14 times likelier to use Ecstasy and 21 times likelier to use cocaine, compared to teens that do not abuse such drugs. 136

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91 Ibid.

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98 Wilma Knol, M.D., et al., “Antipsychotic Drug Use and Risk of Pneumonia in Elderly People,” The American Geriatrics Society, Vol.

56, No. 4, pp. 661-666, Apr. 2008.80

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106 Op. cit., “ABILIFY Rx Only (aripiprazole) Tablets,”

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108 Watching Briefs, MedSafe, June 2008.

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17 Sept. 2007.

110 Jeff Swiatek, “Uncertainty was Driver in Zyprexa Deal,” IndianapolisStar.com, 11 June 2005.

111 Op. cit., Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., et al.

112 “Study: New drugs little better for schizophrenia,” St. Petersburg Times, 20 Sept. 2005.

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to the Zyprexa and Symbyax U.S. Labels,” PRNewswire, Bio-Medicine, 5 Oct. 2007.

114 ZYPREXA Safety Information, www.zyprexa.com.

115 Physicians’ Desk Reference, http://www.pdrhealth.com.

116 Tracey McVeigh, “Tranquilizers ‘more lethal than heroin,’” The Observer, 5 Nov. 2000.

117 Matt Clark, Mary Hager, “Valium Abuse: The Yellow Peril,” Newsweek, 24 Sept. 1979; Dr. Patrick Holford, “How to Quit

Tranquilizers,” www.patrickholdford.com, 2008.

118 Ibid.

119 Op. cit., Tracey McVeigh.

120 “Elderly On Long-Acting Anxiety, Insomnia Drugs Have More Car Crashes,” Doctor’s Guide citing Journal of American Medical

Association, 30 June 1997.

121 “Agression, Violence & Bezodiazapines,” Benzo.org.uk, citing British National Formulary, 2001.

122 Benzo.org.uk, citing Professor C. Heather Ashton, Benzodiazepines: How They Work and How To Withdraw, Feb. 2001.

123 “The Influence on the Pharmaceutical Industry,” House of Commons, UK, Health Committee, Vol. 1, Mar. 2005. p. 65.

124 Tarja-Brita R. Wahlin, et al., “Falls and fall risk among nursing home residents,” The Journal of Clinical Nursing, Vol. 17, pp. 126-

134, Jan. 2008.

125 “Europe-wide review recommends updates to product information for varenicline (brand name Champix),” MHRA, 14 Dec. 2008.

126 “Early Communication About an Ongoing Safety Review Varenicline (marketed as Chantix),” FDA, 20 Nov. 2007.

127 “Varenicline (marketed as Chantix) Information,” FDA Alert, 1 Feb. 2008.

128 Op. cit., House of Commons, UK, Health Committee, p. 65.

129 Anna Maria Dademan, “Flunitrazepam and violence—psychiatric and legal issues,” Department of Clinical Neuroscience,

Occupational Therapy and Elderly Care, Research Division of Forensic Psychiatry, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, 2000, p. 43.

130 “Zolpidem (‘Stilnox’) – Updated information – February 2008,” Theraputic Goods Administration, 21 Feb. 2008; “Club Drugs: An

Update,” Drug Intelligence Brief, Drug Enforcement Administration, Sept. 2001.

131 “FDA Safety Changes: Ambien, Primazin IM/IV, Hepsera,” Medscape, 28 Aug. 2008.

132 Peter Breggin, Toxic Psychiatry, (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1991) p. 245.

133 Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, et al., “Emergence of Hostility During Alprazolam Treatment in Borderline Personality Disorder,” The

American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 141, No. 6 (June 1984), pp. 792-793.

134 David L. Gardner and Rex W. Cowdrey, “Alprazolam-Induced Dyscontrol in Borderline Personality Disorder,” The American

Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 142, No. 1 (Jan. 1985), pp. 98-100.

135 “Xanax addiction extremely tough to kick,” MSNBC News Online, 2001.

136 Statement by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Chairman and President, “Under the Counter: The Diversion and Abuse of Controlled

Prescription Drugs in the U.S.” The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, July 2005.

137 Physicians’ Desk Reference, (Medical Economics Company, New Jersey, 1998), pp. 2822-2823; David L. Richman, M.D., Leonard

Roy Frank, and Art Mandler, Dr. Caligari’s Psychiatric Drugs (Alonzo Printing Co., Inc., California, 1984), p. 39.

138 Op. cit., David L. Richman, M.D., et al., pp. 38-39.

139 Ibid.

Source: http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/The_Side_Effects_of_Common_Psychiatric_Drugs.pdf

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