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What are benzodiazpines? 

Benzodiazepines may be implemented as an adjunct to antipsychotic medication in order to treat acute symptoms of psychosis such as agitation, aggression, irritability, or anxiety. They may also be used to treat side effects of antipsychotic medications such as movement disorders including tardive dyskinesia, however they are associated with their own side effects and are associated with well-established patterns of tolerance and dependence, so they are prescribed with caution.

What is the evidence on benzodiazepines?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests no additional benefit of adjunctive benzodiazepine for reducing agitation or excitation in the short term (up to 30 minutes); however benzodiazepines may be associated with a faster time to sedation than antipsychotics alone, better global improvements (up to 60 minutes) and lower risk of movement disorders. No significant difference was found between adjunct benzodiazepines and antipsychotics alone for other outcomes including the need for additional medication, study attrition, mental state, aggression, and hospitalisation.


June 2016

Page last updated: 2:52  22 August 2017

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