e. Decrease Preoperative and Postoperative Apprehension. Patients who
will undergo or have undergone surgery frequently have periods of apprehension.
Antianxiety agents have been used to reduce this type of stress and tension.
9-7. ADVANTAGES OF THE USE OF ANTIANXIETY AGENTS
Anti-anxiety agents have two main advantages over drugs that were previously
used to calm or sedate patients:
a. Antianxiety Agents Do Not Cause Excessive Loss of Alertness.
Barbiturates were frequently used to calm patients. Unfortunately, the barbiturates
sometimes calmed the patients to an undesirable degree. Although the antianxiety
agents produce some degree of sedation during the initial days of therapy, this sedation
is usually short-lived.
b. Overdosage of Antianxiety Agents Rarely Results in Death to the
Patient. As previously stated, the barbiturates were previously used to calm patients.
Unfortunately, overdose of barbiturates can frequently result in coma, respiratory
depression, and death. Antianxiety agents, on the other hand, are somewhat safe in
terms of the amount of drug required to produce coma, respiratory depression, and
death. This factor makes the wise use of antianxiety agents in special circumstances
useful in the treatment of extremely anxious patients who are entertaining thoughts
9-8. DISADVANTAGES OF THE USE OF ANTIANXIETY AGENTS
Although the antianxiety agents do have many advantages over previously used
drugs, they are not free from potentially harmful effects. The discussion below focuses
on two major disadvantages of the group of drugs classified as antianxiety agents.
a. Drowsiness. Antianxiety agents, especially during the first few days of
therapy, produce drowsiness in many patients. Further, many patients who take
antianxiety drugs experience loss of judgment and a loss of mental powers.
Consequently, patients who are on antianxiety therapy should be cautioned not to
b. Drug Interaction Effects. The antianxiety agents can interact with central
nervous system depressants to produce a further degree of depression to the central
nervous system. Thus, patients who are on antianxiety therapy should be cautioned
against drinking alcohol or taking other central nervous system depressants.
9-9. EXAMPLES OF ANTIANXIETY AGENTS
This area of the subcourse is designed to provide you with a brief overview of
some commonly prescribed antianxiety agents. If you desire further information about