Anxiolytic medications reduce symptoms of anxiety. Hypnotic drugs induce sleep. Both medications can function in either role and are sometimes known as "minor tranquilizers" (to distinguish them from the "major tranquilizers," barbiturates and antipsy-chotics). Anxiolytics and hypnotics are among the most frequently prescribed medications and have a wide application, including long-term treatment of anxiety disorders, relaxation and sedation before procedures, treatment of acute agitation, and medically managed withdrawal from substances. Despite valid and effective applications in medical practice, almost every drug in this class has significant potential for abuse and dependence with long-term use. This entry reviews the different classes of medications used to treat anxiety and insomnia with an emphasis on the benzodiazepines (BZDs).

Anxiolytics offer predictable, short-term relief from anxiety symptoms related to situational ...

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