Medicine & USMLE


Mental Health Drugs
  1. Tricyclic Antidepressants
  2. SSRIs
  3. SNRIs
  4. Benzodiazepines
  5. Barbiturates
  6. Typical Antipsychotics
  7. Atypical Antipsychotics
  8. Extrapyramidal Symptoms
  9. Lithium
  10. MAOIs
  11. Bupropion
  12. Buspirone
  13. Trazodone
  14. Zolpidem
  15. Amphetamines


Zolpidem is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is used to treat insomnia. It is a short-term treatment, and should not be used for longer than 10 days. Zolpidem is a preferred treatment for insomnia over benzodiazepines because it does not have as high of a risk for dependence or abuse compared to the benzodiazepine drugs.

Key Points

  • Mechanism
    • Sedative-hypnotic
      • Is considered a nonbenzodiazepine, but has a similar mechanism of action as benzodiazepines
        • Binds to GABA receptors, enhancing GABA action
    • Clinical Use
      • Insomnia (Sedative)
        • Short-term treatment (less than 10 days)
        • Can assist in helping fall asleep, but its short half life does not generally help to stay asleep
        • Preferred treatment over barbiturates and benzodiazepines, as it has a much lower risk of dependency and abuse
        • Rapid onset
          • Should be taken immediately prior to sleep
          • Do not drive after taking zolpidem
        • Does not have other effects of benzodiazepines like antianxiety, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxing
    • Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
      • Drowsiness, lethargy, hangover (residual sedation)
        • Avoid other CNS depressants like alcohol, narcotics, and antipsychotics
      • Headache