Drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia may increase patients' risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents, according to a recent study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggested doctors should consider advising patients not to drive while taking these drugs.
Psychotropic drugs affect the way the brain functions and can impair a driver's ability to control their vehicle.
Antidepressants, sleeping pills and anxiety drugs may increase driving risk
Research on the links between psychotropic medication and driving accidents has focused on benzodiazepines, which have been used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Perhaps the best known of these drugs is diazepam. Newer Z-drugs, used to treat insomnia, have received less attention, as have antidepressants and antipsychotics.
"Our findings underscore that people taking these psychotropic drugs should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent motor vehicle accidents," said lead researcher, Hui-Ju Tsai, in a statement.
"Doctors and pharmacists should choose safer treatments, provide their patients with accurate information and consider advising them not to drive while taking certain psychotropic medications."
The research provides more evidence on the link between dose and driving performance, showing that higher doses are associated with a higher risk of an accident.
"Our data demonstrated significant dose effects for antidepressants, benzodiazepine and Z-drugs," said Tsai. "This suggests that taking a higher dosage poses a greater danger to those intending to drive."
The authors recommend that patients do not stop taking their medication, but if concerned should consult their doctor.
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