Use of Benzodiazepines and Hypnotic Medications in Psychiatry Older Adult Outpatients


Use of Benzodiazepines and Hypnotic Medications in Psychiatry Older Adult Outpatients

Nahid M. Elhassan*, Zerak Al-Salihy, Bushra, Elhusein, Muayad Jouda, Sanabel, Al-Akras, Yahia Albobaly, Yaseen Eltorki and Majid Alabdulla

Consultation Liaison Psychiatry Unit, Psychiatry Department, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar.


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Benzodiazepines have anxiolytic, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and muscle-relaxing properties, therefore, a widely prescribed treatment for anxiety and insomnia. They bind to gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors, which are responsible for most of the inhibitory neurotransmission in the central nervous system and these receptors are a major target of alcohol, barbiturates, muscle relaxants, and other medications with sedative effects, resulting in tolerance and dependence [1]. Benzodiazepines are categorized into short (15 to 30 minutes), intermediate (30 to 60 minutes), and long-acting agents (one hour or longer).
Benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed for elderly patients living in the community and for those in hospitals and institutions. Prolonged use of benzodiazepines is particularly likely in old age for the treatment not only of insomnia and anxiety, but also of a wide range of nonspecific symptoms. Long term users are likely to have multiple concomitant physical and psychological health problems [2].
Benzodiazepines produce dependence, reduce attention, memory, and motor ability. They can cause disinhibition or aggressive behavior, facilitate the appearance of delirium, and increase accident and mortality rates in people older than 60 [3].
According to Maudsley guidelines, benzodiazepines use in elderly are poorly supported for their link to cognitive decline, increase risk of falls and hip fractures [4]. And, if indicated, short acting agents should be avoided. Long acting agents should be started in low doses and patients need to be followed and reassessed regularly. Zolpidem or melatonin are indicated for insomnia, clonazepam and diazepam for agitation and pregabalin for generalized anxiety disorder [5].


Keywords: benzodiazepines, old age, drugs, psychiatry.


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How to cite this article:
Nahid M. Elhassan, Zerak Al-Salihy, Bushra, Elhusein, Muayad Jouda, Sanabel, Al-Akras, Yahia Albobaly, Yaseen Eltorki and Majid Alabdulla. Use of Benzodiazepines and Hypnotic Medications in Psychiatry Older Adult Outpatients. International Journal of Case Reports, 2018 3:48. DOI:10.28933/ijcr-2018-11-1006


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