How does it work?
Oxazepam is a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are used for their sedative, anxiety-relieving and muscle-relaxing effects.
Oxazepam works by acting on receptors in the brain called GABA receptors. This causes the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are stored in nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. They are involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells. GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural ‘nerve-calming’ agent. It helps keep the nerve activity in the brain in balance, and is involved in inducing sleepiness, reducing anxiety and relaxing muscles.
As oxazepam increases the activity of GABA in the brain, it increases its calming effect and results in sleepiness, a decrease in anxiety and relaxation of muscles.
Oxazepam is used for the short-term treatment of severe anxiety, including anxiety associated with insomnia. Oxazepam decreases the time taken to fall asleep and nocturnal awakenings, as well as increasing the total amount of time spent sleeping. However, it is only suitable for short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia as it has a high potential for dependence and addiction.
What is it used for?
• Short-term (two to four weeks only) treatment of severe anxiety and associated insomnia that is disabling or subjecting the individual to unacceptable distress.
• This medicine causes drowsiness and muscle weakness and impairs concentration and alertness. These effects may continue into the following day and are made worse by drinking alcohol. If you are affected you should avoid potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or operating machinary. Avoid alcohol.
• This medicine is generally only suitable for short-term use. If it is used for long periods or in high doses, tolerance to and dependence upon the medicine may develop, and withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, rebound insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, sweating, irritability or convulsions may then occur if treatment is stopped suddenly. Your body may also become tolerant to the medicine, with higher doses needed to achieve the same effect. For this reason, you should not exceed the dose of this medicine prescribed by your doctor, or take it for longer than recommended. If you are still having trouble with anxiety or sleeping after this time you should consult your doctor for further advice.
• Treatment with this medicine should usually be stopped gradually, following the instructions given by your doctor, in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms and a return in your anxiety or sleeping problems.