In the anti-anxiety medication family, benzodiazepines are the most prescribed drugs, for their effectiveness and speed of action. As explained by Dr Jerôme Lerond, psychiatrist at the Center psychothérapique de Nancy (CPN de Laxou): “These treatments, far from being trivial, must be accompanied by clear precautions for use, intended for patients and their families. . »Indeed, their beneficial effects can be accompanied bySide effects undesirable, sometimes very disabling.
“Anxiolytics are aimed at fighting anxiety. This anxiety can be considered as the pathological exacerbation of normal alertness. This is their most common side effect: their sedative component, ”says Dr Lerond.
They can therefore induce a drowsiness during the day and impair alertness while driving. The doctor and pharmacist must warn their patients. In March 2017, the pictogram on the box of medicines such as benzodiazepines was changed from level 2 (“Be very careful. Do not drive without the advice of a health professional”) to level 3 (“Warning, danger: do not drive. To resume driving, seek the advice of a doctor “). These same effects can also be detrimental to the quality of work.
Another concomitant side effect: memory impairment. “You should know that some of these treatments are used in anesthesia for their strong sedative effects, and sometimes amnesia ”, specifies Dr Jérôme Lerond. As a result, memorization problems, even in the case of normal use, in the short term.
Questioned a few years ago in the occurrence of dementia-type Alzheimer’s syndromes during their long-term prescription, benzodiazepines nevertheless remain a reliable reference treatment. Dr. Lerond assures him:
“None if the latter are used in accordance with the reference medical prescriptions and without abuse”, that is to say during the four to twelve weeks recommended by the High Authority for Health.
Note: there is a threshold on the Health Insurance website that should not be exceeded depending on the prescribed benzodiazepine.
Beware of respiratory distress!
Finally, benzodiazepines have important contraindications to mention.
- First, at the end of pregnancy, these drugs can lead to respiratory distress of the infant during childbirth.
- And for the same reasons, these molecules will not be prescribed to people suffering fromSleep Apnea : this syndrome, linked to a greater relaxation of the respiratory muscles during the night, would be accentuated by taking benzodiazepines.
- Last point: they also cannot be prescribed to people suffering from myasthenia gravis, a chronic neuromuscular disease, the main characteristic of which is muscle fatigue aggravated by the use of muscles.