What Is Alprazolam Used For?
Alprazolam and Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder. People with panic disorder have recurrent, unexpected feelings of extreme fear and dread that strike for no apparent reason, causing a racing heart, rapid breathing, sweating, and shakiness. These "attacks" can send people to the hospital believing that they are having a heart attack. A panic attack may even occur when the person is not in a situation that would normally create stress, anxiety, or fear.
Sometimes, people deal with panic disorder by avoiding situations and places that may lead to a panic attack. This, combined with the fear of having a panic attack in public, can lead people to avoid social interaction and can cause people to become "housebound." This problem is known as agoraphobia and often accompanies panic disorder.
Alprazolam is approved as a panic disorder treatment and can be used to treat people with or without agoraphobia.
How Does Alprazolam Work?
Alprazolam is part of a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. These medications have several effects on the body, including:
- Reducing anxiety
- Causing sleepiness
- Relaxing muscles
- Stopping seizures
- Impairing short-term memory.
All medicines in this category can have these effects to some degree, depending on the specific benzodiazepine that is being taken. They work in the brain by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that is naturally calming. GABA can slow down or stop certain nerve signals in the brain. This is why alprazolam and other benzodiazepines are known as mild tranquilizers, sedatives, or central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants).