Benzodiazepines learning module

9. Glossary

Abuse Excessive use of a substance that can modify psychological or other body function and can lead to effects that are harmful to the individual or to others
Addiction, substance Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a particular substance
Agonist A chemical substance that binds to a receptor and mimics the effect of the physiological (endogenous) substance binding to the receptor
Agoraphobia Abnormal fear or anxiety induced by being in crowds or in open spaces—environments which seem difficult to escape from or obtain help
Amnesia Loss of memory
Amnesia, anterograde Loss of memory of events subsequent to the action that induced the effect (eg use of a benzodiazepine)
Antagonist A substance that binds to a receptor but produces no effect and inhibits an agonist from binding to the receptor.
Anticholinergic effects See Antimuscarinic effects—most anticholinergic effects involve the muscarinic receptor for acetylcholine
Antihistamine A substance that blocks the effects of histamine. Histamine is released when the body mounts an immune response and it is responsible for many allergy-related symptoms
Antimuscarinic effects Reduction or blocking of the effects of parasympathetic nerves; antimuscarinic effects include dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, blurred vision, confusion, tachycardia, constipation, and urine retention
Apgar score The result of Apgar test on a newborn 1 minute after birth and again 5 minutes after birth. The test evaluates skin coloration (appearance), heart rate (pulse), reflex irritability (grimace response), activity and muscle tone, and breathing rate and effort (respiration). Each of the five observations is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score.
Ataxia Impaired muscle coordination, thereby affecting the ability to maintain posture or control the strength or direction of limb movement
Avoidant personality Extreme shyness and sensitivity to rejection, resulting in social withdrawal
Barbiturates Substances derived from barbituric acid which depress the central nervous system and were formerly used mainly as sedatives or hypnotics; barbiturates in current use include phenobarbital and thiopental
Cognition Mental functioning involving processes that include perception, recognition, conceptualisation, judgement, and reasoning
Concordance The patient and the health professional agreeing on the health outcomes that the patient desires and on the strategy for achieving them
Dependence Psychological craving or physiological reliance on a chemical substance; also termed habituation
Depersonalisation Loss of sense of personal identity, possibly accompanied by feeling that the individual cannot control own actions or speech
Derealisation Loss of sense of reality with the individual’s surroundings; the external world seeming unfamiliar and unreal
Disinhibition Loss of inhibition which can lead to lack of restraint and disregard for social conventions
Diplopia ‘Double vision’; a single object seen as two objects
Dysarthria Difficulty with speech caused by impaired control of muscles involved in speech because of disturbed functioning of the nervous system
Dysphoria Feeling uneasy, anxious or dissatisfied
Dystonia A neurologically based movement disorder involving sustained contraction of the affected muscles, leading to abnormal posturing or repetitive movements or both
Embolism Blockage in an artery which obstructs blood flow, usually derived from a blockage elsewhere in the circulation. A common source of pulmonary (lung) embolus is a blood clot (thrombus) in the veins which breaks off and becomes lodged in the pulmonary artery.
Excipient A usually inert substance used in the formulation of a medicine
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) An amino acid neurotransmitter that reduces nerve cell activity in the brain; it also occurs in the kidney and in the pancreas (islet beta cells)
Glutamic acid An excitatory amino acid found in abundance in cerebral cortex
Hypersomnia Abnormally increased time spent sleeping
Hypnotic A substance that induces sleep
MHRA Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the government body responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe
Motor Involves or relates to movement of muscle or describes muscle, nerve or brain centre that produces or affects motion
Myalgia Muscle pain
Myasthenia gravis A progressive illness with fatigue and muscle weakness, which results from impaired muscle response to nerve impulse (because of autoimmune disorder affecting the neuromuscular junction)
Neurotransmitter A chemical substance released by a nerve cell at the junction between two nerve cells (synapse), which can stimulate or inhibit the other nerve cell. Examples of neurotransmitters include acetylcholine, dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin.
Nystagmus Involuntary and jerky eye movement and inability to look steadily at an object
Paraesthesia Sensation of numbness or tingling in the skin, popularly known as ‘pins and needles’.
Psychomotor Level of consciousness or cognitive ability linked to motor behaviour
Psychosis Symptoms involving loss of contact with reality, including hallucinations (affecting hearing, smell, feel or sight), delusions, paranoia, and thought disorders; the individual may appear unusually withdrawn or excited. Psychoses can result from brain injury (eg through trauma, stroke, tumours, and infection), or the use of (usually illicit) drugs, or as a result of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and mania.
Psychotropic action The ability of a chemical substance to affect brain function, in particular those brain systems which subserve mental activity. The psychotropic action of a drug is usually (but not always) related to an ability to interact with neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.
Pulmonary embolism Blood clot in the lung
Rhabdomyolysis Rapid or excessive breakdown of muscle with urinary excretion of myoglobin
Sedation Reduction of anxiety, irritability or excitement; inducing calmness
Sleep hygiene Conditions that promote sleep: eg fixed times for retiring and waking, avoiding caffeine and alcohol late at night, avoiding heavy meals at night, taking regular exercise (gentle exercise in the evening), and comfortable sleeping environment
Stupor A state of mental numbness and near-unconsciousness
Summary of product characteristics (SmPC) Summary of product characteristics, a document that forms the basis of information for European Union health professionals on how to use a medicinal product safely and effectively; it reflects the data assessed for granting marketing authorisation
Syncope Temporary partial or complete loss of consciousness; a faint
Tolerance Tolerance follows repetitive exposure to a drug, leading to a reduction of the pharmacological effect of that drug
Vertigo Sensation of whirling or rotation of surroundings and loss of balance

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Page last modified: 17 February 2015