- A drug that calms a patient down, easing agitation and permitting sleep. Sedatives generally work by modulating signals within the central nervous system. These sedatives can dangerously depress important signals needed to maintain heart and lung function if they are misused or accidentally combined, as in the case of combining prescription sedatives with alcohol. Most sedatives also have addictive potential. For these reasons, sedatives should be used under supervision, and only as needed.
* * *1. Calming; quieting. 2. A drug that quiets nervous excitement; designated according to the organ or system upon which specific action is exerted; e.g., cardiac, cerebral, nervous, respiratory, spinal. [L. sedativus; see sedation]
* * *sed·a·tive 'sed-ət-iv adj tending to calm, moderate, or tranquilize nervousness or excitement <\sedative effects of anesthetics and analgesics (Linda C. Haynes )(et al)>sedative n a sedative agent or drug
* * *n.a drug that has a calming effect, relieving anxiety and tension. Sedatives are hypnotic drugs administered at lower doses than those needed for sleep (drowsiness is a common side-effect). See also anxiolytic.
* * *sed·a·tive (sedґə-tiv) [L. sedativus] 1. allaying activity and excitement. 2. an agent that allays excitement; see also tranquilizer. Called also calmative.
Medical dictionary. 2011.