Side Effects Versus Main Effects

There are more subtle side effects of benzodiaze-pines, effects that interfere in various ways with the treatment of the anxiety or sleep disorder. The ben-zodiazepine lessens the symptom but does not alter the underlying problem—say, an unhappy marriage or a precarious job. Indeed, by lessening the symptoms, the individual may lose his or her motivation to identify, confront, and tackle the basic problems. Giving benzodiazepine medicalizes the problem by making the nervous or sad person into a patient, implying that there is something physically wrong. Finally, some events like bereavement need ''working through''—typically by grieving— but benzodiazepines can stop this normal process and actually prevent the bereaved individual from coming to terms with loss.

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