NHS Dudley Health Economy Medicines Formulary
Home > 4 Central nervous system > 4.1 Hypnotics and anxiolytics

4.1 Hypnotics and anxiolytics

General guidance

  • The clinical effects of anxiolytics and hypnotics are similar.
  • Prescribing of these drugs is widespread despite the development of both physical and psychological dependence and tolerance. This may lead to difficulties in withdrawing the drug after the patient has been taking it regularly for more than a few weeks.
  • Hypnotics and anxiolytics should therefore be reserved for short courses to alleviate acute conditions after causal factors have been established.
  • Hypnotics and anxiolytics may impair judgement and increase reaction times, therefore driving performance and the ability to operate machinery generally may be adversely effected. These decreases in performance are exacerbated further by alcohol. In addition, the hangover effects of a night dose may impair driving and performance the following day, such effects are more likely to occur with drugs with a longer duration of action.
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