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What Is Delorazepam?

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  • Written By: B. Chisholm
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Delorazepam is a long-acting sedative drug which may be used as a pre-operative sedative and in the short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia. It is only available in some countries and may be known by different trade names, according to manufacturer. It is usually available by prescription only and is only used short-term due to the possibility of addiction. Patients who have been using delorazepam for a prolonged period should seek medical help if they wish to withdraw off it.

Belonging to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines, delorazepam shares a mechanism with other drugs in the class, like diazepam, midazolam and lorazepam. They act by causing the release of GABA in the brain, a chemical neurotransmitter or messenger which has a calming effect, resulting in a reduction of anxiety and ease of sleeping. While the benzodiazepines share a mechanism of action and, in most cases, possible side effects, they differ mainly in their duration of action and the prescribing doctor will consider this when choosing the best option on a patient-by-patient basis.

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Due to the addictive potential of delorazepam, it is usually only prescribed on a short-term basis. It is used as a sedative before undergoing a surgical procedure and may be prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia in the acute stage. Delorazepam may be given orally or by injection and the prescribed dose should never be exceeded. The lowest effective dose will be prescribed for the shortest duration. Withdrawal symptoms may be experienced when stopping the drug and should only be done under supervision of a doctor.

As with any medication, delorazepam may have adverse effects. Side effects of benzodiazepines that have been reported include drowsiness, disorientation and confusion. Driving and the operation of heavy machinery should be avoided while taking delorazepam. Alcohol should also be avoided and any other medications, including homeopathic, complementary and over-the-counter medicines should be discussed with the prescribing doctor before starting treatment, as interactions or additive side effects may occur.

The most suitable delorazepam dose will be decided by the prescribing doctor, taking into consideration numerous factors including the indication for which it is being used, tolerance of the patient and response. Patients with kidney or liver dysfunction and elderly patients may need to get an adjusted dose due to their metabolizing the drug differently. Any underlying clinical condition should be discussed with the prescribing doctor, as should pregnancy, desired pregnancy and lactation.

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