D.4.1 Describe the effects of depressants.

Depressants are psychoactive drugs that suppress or diminish mental or physical activities in the body by depressing the central nervous system by interfering with the reception or delivery of neurotransmitters between neurons (nerve cells). Depressants are often described as antidepressants because they relieve depression.
  • At low doses, a depressant may exert little or no effect.
  • At moderate doses, the compound may induce sedation (soothing, reduction of anxiety).
  • At higher doses, it may induce sleep.
  • At extremely high doses, it may cause death.

external image depressants_image1.jpgexternal image alcohol.jpg

Short-Term effects:
Chronic/ Long Term use causes:
      • Lack of facial expression or animation
      • Skin may feel cold and clammy
      • Falling asleep (nodding), difficulty concentrating
      • Dilated pupils
      • Decreases body temperature
      • Nausea, Increased perspiration
      • Slowed pulse
      • Impaired memory
      • Physical dependence
      • Hallucinations, paranoia
      • Psychotic episodes
      • Altered eyesight
      • Chronic fatigue
      • Irregular menstrual cycle
      • Convulsions
      • Heart problems
      • Coma
      • Death
Effects on the central nervous system (http://www.aboutdrugs.us/depressants.htm)
Short Term
      • Effects similar to alcohol intoxication
      • Slowed metabolism, pulse, breathing, and reaction times
      • Slurred speech
      • Impaired coordination
      • Staggering gait
      • Loss of memory
      • Confusion
      • Impaired judgment
      • Relief from anxiety, stress and fear
      • Temporary memory loss
      • Causes relaxation(e.g. muscle relaxation), and increased calmness
Long Term
      • Chronic sleep problems
      • Decreased libido and impaired sexual functions
      • Respiratory depression
      • Dependence, tolerance, addiction, overdose
Effects on the cardiac system
Short Term
      • Depressed heart rate
      • Depressed heart contractions
      • Labored breathing
Long Term
      • Hypertension(abnormally high blood pressure)
      • Hemorrhage (escape of blood from ruptured blood vessel)
Effects on the respiratory system (http://www.drugfree.org/portal/drug_guide/depressants)
Short Term
      • Slows breathing
Long Term
      • Respiratory Arrest
Withdrawal Symptoms
  • Restlessness
  • Convulsions
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

Examples of Depressants:
  • Alcohol
  • Diazepam (used to stop seizures)
  • Heroine
  • SSRIs (antidepressants)
    • E.g. Prozac
    • When depressants are prescribed in moderation by a doctor, the effects can be positive instead of negative. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors help regulate the amount of serotonin in your brain which helps to regulate mood and emotion in people with disorders like depression.