Benzodiazepines are generally not a "core" treatment for mania, but they can rapidly help control certain manic symptoms -- such as restlessness, agitation, or insomnia -- in bipolar disorder until mood-stabilizing drugs can take effect. They are usually taken for a brief time, up to two weeks or so, with other mood-stabilizing drugs.
Benzodiazepines prescribed for bipolar disorder include (among others):
Benzodiazepine Side Effects
Benzodiazepines act quickly and bring on a sense of calmness. They can sometimes cause lightheadedness, slurred speech, or unsteadiness.
Possible benzodiazepine side effects include:
- Drowsiness or dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness
Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming and addictive. They are usually avoided in people with a history of alcohol or substance abuse, unless they are necessary on a short-term basis as part of a drug or alcohol detox. Benzodiazepines can slow thinking or interfere with judgment. It is also dangerous to combine them with alcohol or certain other medications.
If you have been taking the benzodiazepines in high doses or for a long time, you may suffer serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop the drug suddenly. Talk with your doctor about whether you still need the medication and, if not, how to taper off the drug.