Used primarily to treat insomnia as well as a wide variety of anxiety disorders, tranquilizers are among the most commonly prescribed—and abused—psychiatric medications in the United States.
According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates, over 60 million people receive prescriptions for tranquilizers every year.
The first sedative-hypnotic, or minor tranquilizer, bromide, originated in the 1860s.
Bromides are long-acting sedatives that were rarely used past the turn of the nineteenth century; however, bromide can still be found in Bromo Seltzer.
The most common typical or conventional neuroleptic drugs include: This list ranks the neuroleptics in increasing order of causing sedation and in decreasing order of causing abnormal involuntary muscle movements and potency.
All are equally effective in treating the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Reserpine was used in the treatment of snake bites, high blood pressure, and anxiety. physician named Wilkins demonstrated the positive effects of reserpine in 1952, the drug gained instant notoriety.
Rauwolfia was long used in India for the treatment of mental illness (especially paranoia and schizophrenia) and known to medicine men and locals as the "insanity herb." And although the plant was well known in India—Ghandi sometimes sipped tea made from its leaves—Westerners paid little attention to it until an Indian physician wrote an article about it in 1943. Reserpine rapidly replaced induced insulin shock therapy (injecting patients with insulin until their blood sugar levels fall so low that the they become comatose), electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy (inducing seizures by passing an electric current through the brain), and lobotomy (making an incision in the lobe of the brain) as treatments for certain types of mental illness.
The most frequently cited possible cause of mental illnesses is an abnormal hyperactivity of the dopamine neurotransmitter system in the brain.
Although clinical descriptions of psychotic patients—especially schizophrenics—date back to at least 1400 b.c., prior to 1950, effective drugs for the treatment of psychotic patients were virtually nonexistent.
Reserpine, an alkaloid, and the active ingredient of Rauwolfia serpentina, the Indian snakeroot, was the basis of the first major tranquilizer.
The bromides are gastric irritants with a narrow safety margin and may cause a chronic toxicity known as bromism.
Barbiturates (a class of drugs with more effective sedative-hypnotic effects) replaced bromides in 1903.