How Does Ambien Work?
Ambien belongs to the type of drugs called Hypnotics. They cause feelings of relaxation and reduces or removes anxiety. Due to this effect, they are prescribed by doctors to people with insomnia and anxiety issues, not as a cure, but as a treatment to help them during the diagnosis.
As soon as you ingest Ambien, it dissolves and the substances goes from your intestines to your bloodstream. Eventually, it goes to your brain where it does most of it’s work. To understand how it works inside your brain, we need to know how the brain does its own job.
Your brain is mostly made up of cells called neurons. These neurons have root-like arms that connect to other neurons and this is how they communicate. They send certain “messenger chemicals” known as Neurotransmitters, and when a neuron receives a neurotransmitter, it reacts depending on what it received. It may repeat the same message to another neuron and passed along until it reaches your brain or spine, or send a different message somewhere else, or stop other messages from being transferred.
According to your neurons, Ambien is identical to the neurotransmitter called “GABA” (Gamma-AminoButyric Acid) so when you take Ambien, the neurons in your brain would think it’ GABA and react accordingly. GABA is called an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, which means it slows or stops the neuron from doing something. In this case, GABA slows down neuron activity. One such example where GABA does its role is when you calm down after knowing that you won the lottery, or when your future spouse agrees to your wedding proposal.
This effect is what makes Ambien an effective sleeping aid. By taking Ambien, your brain activity slows down and calms you. The calm is artificial though, a false sense of serenity, so much that even thoughts and events that would otherwise shock you won’t make a dent to your “zen-like” state. Which is why Ambien is categorized as a Hypnotic.
Can Ambien Cause Depression?
Presently, Depression is categorized as a mental disorder. There is a large rift between simply feeling sad and actual depression. Feeling sad is simply a reaction to multiple stimulus that causes you to feel sad, like getting fired, or separating from your loved one for a long while. Depression is an actual abnormality within your brain chemistry, caused by chronic triggers or trauma.
During depression, the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA flood your brain causing it to slow activity down by a small but significant margin. Ambien does the same exact effect on the brain, so does it cause Depression?
Yes. Ambien has the potential to cause depression, especially on people with preexisting conditions, and undiagnosed signs of depression. One possible factor is part of becoming dependent on Ambien, that they could not feel calm without the medicine, leaving them restless and irritable, leading to continued use and eventually, misuse.
Another potential cause of depression is when Ambien is taken with other depressive drugs, the most common of which, is alcohol. The two substances cause several other dire conditions like coma, complete memory loss, and damage to the kidney and liver.
There have been cases of people with no signs of behavioral disorders, who took Ambien and felt depression, going as far as having suicidal thoughts. The only proper explanation was that there were people with genetic dispositions that made them vulnerable to depression, which was triggered by Ambien.
This is why Ambien should not be taken without proper medical advice. Though it is generally safe to be taken, it must be done with prudence.
Does Ambien Cause Memory Loss?
There have been odd tales about users of Ambien. Some of them wake up one day, only to find that someone had eaten nearly all the food in the fridge, or that someone went through half the cereal box, leaving a mess in the dinner table. Some pointed to wanton intruders who want nothing but food, but it was soon confirmed that some Ambien users were sleepwalking.
There was still a debate whether they were indeed sleepwalking, or were they actually conscious during the food raid, and merely forgot about the affair the next day, which begged the question if Ambien does cause memory loss.
Yes. Ambien does indeed cause minor memory loss, due to the drug’s effect on your memory centers. This effect is felt more by people who stay up while under the influence of the drug. It’s likely that they forget what happened to them during the peak of Ambien’s effect. This is inconsequential to people who sleep as soon as they take the drug, as there’s nothing to remember while you are asleep.
Memory loss also happens when Ambien is taken well above the required dosage. Ambien overdose is known to cause blackouts and gaps in their time of day.
If taken normally, and as intended, the memory loss side-effect of Ambien is very manageable.
Does Ambien Cause Weight Gain?
One common fact may give an idea why people ask if Ambien can cause weight gain: When we feel sad, one common thing that makes us happy, is to eat. Does taking Ambien have that very same effect?
Ambien is a hypnotic. It could also be called a sedative, but it’s not enough to actually induce sleep like barbiturates do. It causes a depressive effect on the body by slowing down neural activity. Ambien induced depression may trigger the brain to do what it’s instinctual nature does, which is to feed itself calories and nutrients to combat depression.
In some odd cases, there are people who find themselves raiding the kitchen cabinets and the fridge, even cooking up simple but bountiful meals for the night. The catch: Most of them were not aware of it, and only find out when they see the aftermath of what they’ve done.
The reason behind this is that Ambien causes the brain to confuse eating and sleeping. When you sleep, the brain goes into sleep state, but a part of it gets the message wrong and replies with a hunger signal. The result is the person sleepwalking to find food to eat. Thankfully, it’s not some kind of ravenous eating binge, but rather the person is mostly conscious, driven to eat, then has minor memory loss in the morning. It gives the impression that they are sleepwalking.
Ambien does not directly cause weight gain like hormones would. The weight gain is caused instead by increased appetite and the rare cases of Mid-sleep eating.
Can Ambien Kill You?
Any drug when misused or taken in excess has the capacity to kill. Narcotics will cause a person to stop breathing. Stimulants can cause seizures and heart attacks. Alcohol in excess can lead to alcohol poisoning, destroying the liver, kidneys and brain in the process. Ambien is no exception.
An overdose of Ambien will cause difficulty in breathing and slow heart rate. This cuts the supply of oxygen to the brain and when that supply is completely cut, death can happen in less than ten minutes. In other cases, the person may fall into a deep level of unconsciousness and eventually, slip into a coma.
Apart from an overdose, Ambien can also kill indirectly. There are terrible cases of people committing suicide due to Ambien. The drug can potentially cause a deep depression that may lead people into taking their own lives. Another is when people are under the influence of Ambien, and they either drive, or operate heavy machinery. Ambien reduces anxiety by a large margin, so some people take them so they can endure the day. This is incredibly risky and will cause accidents.