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Sedatives can be misused to produce an overly-calming effect (alcohol being the classic and most common sedating drug).

In the event of an overdose or if combined with another sedative, many of these drugs can cause unconsciousness (see hypnotic) and even death.

In the elderly, antipsychotic medications can cause serious side effects, such as extrapyramidal symptoms and tardive dyskinesia.

Newer antipsychotic drugs are less often associated with these side effects, but they should be used only for specific diagnoses and when behavioral and environmental measures are unsuccessful.

There is some overlap between the terms "sedative" and "hypnotic".

Advances in pharmacology have permitted more specific targeting of receptors, and greater selectivity of agents, which necessitates greater precision when describing these agents and their effects: Doctors often administer sedatives to patients in order to dull the patient's anxiety related to painful or anxiety-provoking procedures.

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Potentially Inappropriate Drugs for Elderly (Beers List).

Treatment of tension-type headache typically involves the use of over-the-counter analgesics.At higher doses it may result in slurred speech, staggering gait, poor judgment, and slow, uncertain reflexes.Doses of sedatives such as benzodiazepines, when used as a hypnotic to induce sleep, tend to be higher than amounts used to relieve anxiety, whereas only low doses are needed to provide a peaceful effect.The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987 limited the use of psychotropic medications in residents of long-term care facilities.Updates of OBRA guidelines have liberalized some dosing restrictions, but documentation of necessity and periodic trials of medication withdrawal are still emphasized.

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