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Antianxiety Medicines for Schizophrenia

Antianxiety medicines (such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam) are sometimes used along with antipsychotic medicines to treat a relapse of schizophrenia. These medicines help calm you and relieve anxiety and nervousness. In high doses, they may make you sleepy.

Antianxiety medicines are sometimes used to shorten an episode of psychosis. In rare cases, taking antianxiety medicines makes psychotic symptoms worse.

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When antianxiety medicines are combined with antipsychotic medicines to treat schizophrenia, the dose of antipsychotic may need to be lowered.

Side effects of antianxiety medicines include fatigue, balance problems, and sleepiness. These can lead to falls and accidents. For this reason, antianxiety medicines are used with caution in older adults and people who already have problems with balance and coordination. Antianxiety medicines also can be habit-forming.

Alprazolam (Xanax) may be more habit-forming, and you need to take it several times a day. It may be best not to use this medicine unless you also have a panic disorder.

Antianxiety medicines should never be stopped abruptly. This can cause weakness, severe confusion, and seizures.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on clonazepam (Klonopin) and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using this medicine. Instead, people who take clonazepam should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take clonazepam and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

For more information on antianxiety medicines, see Drug Reference. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems).

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised August 31, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 31, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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