A drug in the benzodiazepine family that is taken as a muscle relaxant, sleeping aid, or antianxiety medication. There is some evidence that alprazolam also has antidepressant effects, a helpful secondary benefit when mild depression also is present. Alprazolam, like other benzodiazepines, acts to reduce communication among nerve cells in the brain, slowing brain activity. This effect reduces anxiety and often causes drowsiness, although alprazolam seems to cause less drowsiness than some of the other benzodiazepines. Alprazolam, along with other benzodiazepine medications, also slows nerve responses throughout the body, thus helping to relieve muscle spasms. It is sometimes useful for restless leg syndrome (RLS) and muscle rigidity. The trade name for alprazolam is Xanax.