What are side effects of benzodiazepines?

Dr. Gayatri Devi, MD

Benzodiazepines sedate your brain, so your thinking may not be as sharp, and your multitasking skills will be affected. In this video, I will discuss the side effects of taking benzos, and why prolonged use is dangerous. 

Dr. John Preston, PsyD
Psychology Specialist

Here are side effects of benzodiazepines:

Common side effects:
These include drowsiness, dizziness, forgetfulness, and slurred speech.

Less common side effects:
These include confusion, nervousness, rash, and loss of balance and falls.

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Side effects may include headaches, vision problems, dry mouth, swollen tongue, a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth, vivid dreams, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and shortness of breath. It may also include flushing, nausea, constipation, urinary retention or incontinence, and weight loss or gain. Skin-related side effects may include hives, rash, itching, sensitivity to light, and swelling. Women may have irregular periods. Men may develop breasts.

Central nervous system side effects usually occur only in the first few days of treatment, and then get better. The side effects may include drowsiness, confusion, weakness, dizziness, and feeling faint. Benzodiazepines can cause serious changes in behavior and thinking, such as bizarre or uninhibited behavior, agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, panic, delirium, and sleepwalking. There may be no memory of these afterwards. Benzodiazepines can make it dangerous for a person to drive or to use machinery the next day.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.