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A tranquilizer[1] refers to a drug which is designed for the treatment of anxiety, fear, tension, agitation, and disturbances of the mind,[2] specifically to reduce states of anxiety and tension.[3]

Tranquilizer, as a term, was first used by F.F. Yonkman (1953),[4][5] from the conclusions of investigative studies using the drug reserpine, which showed the drug had a calming effect on all animals it was administered to. Reserpine is a centrally acting Rauwolfia alkaloid.[6] The word directly refers to the state of tranquillity in a person and other animals.[7]

The term is considered popular or common, meaning it is not generally in use in the field of medicine. Specifically, it is used in reference to antipsychotic or neuroleptic medications.[8]

The term is generally used as a synonym for sedative. When used by health care professionals, it is usually qualified or replaced with more precise terms:

Mood stabilizers might also be considered to belong to the classification of tranquilizing agents.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ also spelled tranquillizer (Oxford spelling) and tranquilliser (alternative British spelling); see spelling differences
  2. ^ Britannica article - tranquilizerEncyclopædia Britannica Accessed 12 October 2017
  3. ^ D. Coon, J.O. Mitterer - Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior page 207 Cengage Learning, 29 December 2008 ISBN 0495599115 Accessed 12 October 2017
  4. ^ D. Healy - The Creation of Psychopharmacology page 99 Harvard University Press, 2009 ISBN 0674038452 page 99 Accessed 14 October 2017
  5. ^ D. Healy - Medicating Modern America: Prescription Drugs in History page 54 NYU Press, 8 January 2007 ISBN 0814783473 Accessed 14 October 2017
  6. ^ H.J. Bein - Psychotropic Agents: Part I: Antipsychotics and Antidepressants Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology page 46 Springer Science & Business Media, 6 December 2012 ISBN 3642675387 Accessed 14 October 2017
  7. ^ "tranquilizer" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  8. ^ J. Scott Werry (29 June 2013) - Practitioner’s Guide to Psychoactive Drugs for Children and Adolescents Springer Science & Business Media ISBN 1489900861 Accessed 12 October 2017
  9. ^ "WordNet Search - 3.0". Retrieved 1 January 2009.
  10. ^ Tranquilizing+Agents at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)