10 Ways Depressants Affect Your Body

A woman in depression.

Here we will discuss how depressants affect your body. 

Depressants are a type of drug that inhibits the ordinary function of the central nervous system. These drugs are among the most commonly prescribed in the world. If you have anxiety, panic, sleep, or muscle disorders, you may have been or might be prescribed depressants.

Although these drugs are FDA approved and are seemingly helpful, it is important to understand how they affect your body.

Let’s jump right in.

Short Term Effects

Drug use is considered “short-term” when consumption is infrequent or lasts for less than three months. Short-term effects are generally temporary, and any negative side effects may resolve on their own after discontinuing use.

Below are some short-term effects that may occur when using depressants.

1) Drowsiness

Most depressants increase the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid(GABA), a brain chemical that inhibits brain activity. This increase in GABA can lead to drowsiness and the calming effects it has on anxiety and stress.

2) Euphoria

Because of the way depressant drugs slow brain activity, they can create feelings of pleasure and euphoria.

Euphoria is a feeling of intense excitement or happiness. Although feelings of intense happiness can be beneficial, an addiction to the emotions provided by the drug can occur. 

3) Decreased Blood Pressure

When used as prescribed, depressants calm the body’s nerves and muscles. The reduction of stress ultimately lowers blood pressure that may have spiked in times of anxiety or panic.

Prolonged stress can result in heart conditions such as left ventricular hypertrophy- a thickening of the walls of the heart’s main pumping chamber. Depressants can be a valuable treatment for this condition.

4) Confusion and Impaired Motor Skills

When depressants are used in doses higher than recommended, your cognition and motor skills become Impaired.

This Impairment may occur because your central nervous system has been slowed to a point where basic functions like thinking and moving require more effort than usual.

Memory loss, Impaired judgment, and slurred speech are additional side effects that fall into this category and may occur. 

Long-Term Effects

Drug use is considered “long-term” when consumption is frequent and lasts for more than three months. Long-term effects may be permanent or hard to reverse. Treating the negative side effects of long-term use may require medical interventions like additional medication, therapy, or surgery.

Below are some long-term effects that may occur when using depressants.

1) Dependency

The euphoria felt when consuming depressants can leave a user craving the feeling which is why depressants like Xanax, alcohol, heroin, and morphine are often misused.

Additionally, long-term use of depressants can inhibit your brain’s ability to create hormones on its own since the drug has been encouraging the release for so long. This inability results in physical dependency, and without the continued use of depressants, your body withdraws.

2) Chronic Fatigue

One of the short-term effects of depressants is drowsiness. When drowsiness disrupts your sleep cycle for a prolonged amount of time, chronic fatigue can occur.

Chronic fatigue may begin to present itself for various reasons. The most common reasons are; a disruption in your internal clock (circadian rhythm) and your body becoming overworked to keep up with the drug.

3) Respiratory Issues

Long-term use of depressants can compromise respiratory pump function due to respiratory muscle fatigue or central nervous system depression.

Additionally, prolonged drug use of any kind can weaken your immune system and damage organs which may leave you more susceptible to respiratory, or other illnesses.

4) Depression

Naturally, you may be able to assume that depressant medications can lead to depression.

Serotonin is one of the hormones that depressant use inhibits the release. Serotonin is one of our brain’s “happy chemicals” and is responsible for positive emotions.

Prolonged deprivation of natural serotonin release can cause sadness, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

5) Organ Damage or Failure

There are many depressant drugs available, and some are safer than others. Depending on the type of depressant being used, organ damage can occur. Alcohol, for example, is a common depressant and has a well-known history of wreaking havoc on the internal organs of a perpetual user.

Generally, the most harmful depressants are alcohol and opioids and medical marijuana is thought to be one of the safest medications. However, medical marijuana is technically a different drug class called “tetrahydrocannabinol” but it has the same benefits as depressants.

6) Death

Although rare, death is a long-term and obviously permanent consequence that can occur when taking depressants.

Depressant-related death can occur through overdose, organ failure, suicide, accidents, or by mixing drugs with alcohol.

Mixing depressant pills with alcohol can be fatal because they compete with each other in the body. This competition puts too much pressure on the heart and can cause the heart to stop.

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