With COVID-19 continuing to cause disruption in people’s lives, more and more are turning to anti-anxiety medications to help with their stress and anxiety.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax (Alprazolam), Klonopin (Clonazepam), and Ativan (Lorazepam) rose 10.2% in the U.S. to 9.7 million in March 2020 (compared to 8.8 million in March 2019), according to the latest data from health-research firm IQVIA. According to a survey released March 25th by the American Psychiatric Association more than one-third of Americans say the pandemic is having a “serious impact” on their mental health.
While anti-anxiety medications can be helpful in the short term for anxiety issues, they can also be extremely dangerous and sometimes even deadly when taken incorrectly. Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and other medical conditions including seizures and insomnia. Benzodiazepines work in the central nervous system by binding to GABA receptors which serve as the brakes in the brain, thus blocking excessive activity of the neurons, which causes a calming feeling and helps decrease anxiety.
If these medications are not taken as prescribed, they can be very dangerous. Common side effects include drowsiness, sleepiness and dizziness, among others. If too much of these are taken or if they are mixed with alcohol or other medications such as opioids, an overdose can occur. Signs of an overdose can include:
· Extreme drowsiness or trouble staying awake
· Slurred speech or confusion
· Lack of muscle coordination
If you or someone you know is suffering any of these symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact your local poison center in Texas. If someone is having trouble breathing, call 911. The Texas Poison Center Network is always just a phone call away to assist with questions or concerns about a possible overdose or any other type of poisoning or side-effect at 1-800-222-1222. Visit our website at www.poisoncontrol.org for more information.
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