Benzodiazepines (BDZs), which are among the most widely prescribed drugs in current psychiatric practice, act as positive modulators of GABAergic neurotransmission. They are used to treat a wide range of disorders, from anxiety, affective disorders and insomnia to epilepsy, alcohol withdrawal and muscle spasms. However, the development of tolerance and dependence after long‐term BDZ treatment, as well as the abuse potential, limit their use. Although some other classes of drugs are currently considered as a better choice for long‐term treatment, BDZs to date still remain indispensable drugs. They are widely prescribed for anxiety disorders, with high levels of evidence existing for the short‐term BDZ use in panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, intermediate for social anxiety and poor in post‐traumatic stress disorder and obsessive‐compulsive disorder. Future studies are intending to develop the new selective drugs that act via BDZ receptors, but with novel, narrow profile of action. Furthermore, the research on alternative therapeutic approaches of psychiatric disorders has shifted the focus onto therapeutic potential of natural BDZ ligands.
Part of the book: New Developments in Anxiety Disorders