Medical Subject Headings (MeSH): Central Nervous System Depressants
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are a class of medications that slow down the activity of the brain and nervous system. These medications are used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures. They can also be used as anesthetics during surgery or other medical procedures.
Examples of CNS depressants include:
Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and alprazolam (Xanax)
Barbiturates such as phenobarbital and secobarbital
Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta)
Opioids such as morphine and fentanyl
CNS depressants are generally safe when used as directed, but they can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. Overdose can be life-threatening and can cause respiratory depression, coma, and death. Long-term use can lead to dependence and withdrawal.
CNS depressants are important in healthcare because they can be used to help manage a wide range of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures. They also have a role in providing anesthesia and pain management for surgical and other medical procedures. However, these medications should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. They should not be stopped abruptly, and the healthcare provider should be consulted before starting or stopping the use of these medications.