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Explains what sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers are used for, how the medication works, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
Sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers are prescribed for severe anxiety and sleeping problems. They include:
Sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers are sedatives. This means they slow down your body and brain’s functions, such as your breathing, heartbeat and thought processes.
These drugs are sometimes called sleeping pills, minor tranquillisers, sedatives or anxiety-busters. Doctors may also call them hypnotics and anxiolytics.
If taken correctly, they can:
They can’t cure anxiety or sleeping problems, as they don’t address the underlying causes, but they can help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
You should be prescribed sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers according to guidelines produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British National Formulary (the main guide for professionals on the use of medication).
These guidelines say that you should be given sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers only:
Sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers work best if you take them on a short-term basis, rather than as continuous treatment. This is because, for most people:
For most people the following guidelines apply:
"On balance, I would argue that sedatives are an excellent short term solution but not something to depend for more than a few weeks at a time."
This information was published in August 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
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