A tranquilizer is a drug meant to treat various mental ailments. Tranquilizers are available strictly by prescription, and can be grouped into two main categories: major tranquilizers and minor tranquilizers.

Major tranquilizers treat serious disorders, including schizophrenia and other psychotic issues whose symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and confusion. Tranquilizers also have a sedating effect for patients who are irrational or easily agitated. In turn, people suffering from these illnesses and symptoms can lead at least partially functional, productive and independent lives. There are many types of major tranquilizers, the most common of which are phenothiazines.

Minor tranquilizers treat less extreme mental issues, such as general anxiety, fear and stress. The most frequently used minor tranquilizers are benzodiazepines. These include brand names like Xanax and Valium. Unlike their major counterparts, minor tranquilizers are not meant for long term use, because they can cause dependency. They can also be abused.

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