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Article
February 9, 1957

INHERENT DANGERS IN USE OF TRANQUILIZING DRUGS IN ANXIETY STATES

JAMA. 1957;163(6):422-426. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02970410012005
Abstract

• The effects of tranquilizing drugs have been studied in 8,200 patients in whom anxiety was the chief finding. The group was limited to people of normal physical make-up and of at least average intellectual capacity who were capable of working steadily and were complaining of tension, worry, and associated physiological disturbances. Of these, 7,500 had taken some amount of the tranquilizing drugs before they came under observation. The danger to the patient's physical health is shown by the appearance of allergic phenomena in 96, general toxic effects in 78, habituation in 72, severe liver disturbances in 31, other severe symptoms in 97, and death in 4. Two of the deaths were suicides. The danger to the patient's emotional health is shown by the finding of about 1,700 instances in which serious problems were created in essentially normal people and 827 instances in which emotional illness was aggravated. The danger to the physician results from the accumulating pressure on the medical profession from the people who produce and those who demand these drugs. There is, fourthly, a grave danger to society in the idea that tensions should be reduced by techniques of relaxation and administration of drugs rather than by the constructive effort required for satisfying needs and removing dangers. The physician must inform himself well about these drugs and reorient his own thinking about their indications and limitations.

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