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West London NHS Trust > Patients and carers > Treatments and medication > Medication > Tranquilisers


Tranquillisers target the chemical in the brain that reduces rational thought, memory and emotions.

A type of tranquillisers called benzodiazepines, which includes medicines such as diazepam (Valium), are sometimes used on a short-term basis at the lowest possible dose to treat severe anxiety.
More about diazepam
Like antidepressants, benzodiazepines should be stopped gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
You should be prescribed tranquillisers according to guidelines produced by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British National Formulary (the main guide for professionals on the use of medication).
These guidelines say that you should be given tranquillisers only:

  • if you have severe anxiety that is having a significant impact on your day-to-day life
  • for short periods of time
  • if other forms of treatment, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), are not suitable or have not helped