Sedatives and tranquilizers

Sedatives and tranquilizers are medicines that have a calming effect. Generally, sedatives and tranquilizers depress or slow down certain body functions or the activity of an organ, such as the heart.

Mild sedatives and tranquilizers may be used to reduce anxiety or other nervous system problems, promote sleep, or regulate an organ system. For example, light doses of sedatives can help reduce coughing, nausea, or convulsions. Stronger doses of these substances may be used for severe sleep problems, severe anxiety, symptoms related to psychotic disorders (such as hallucinations or delusions), or as part of anesthesia. These types of sedatives and tranquilizers should only be used as directed by a health professional because they can become habit forming. Abuse of some stronger substances can lead to severe health problems.

Last Updated: April 29, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology

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