Symptoms of CNS Depression


Depression of the central nervous system, or CNS, occurs when there is a decrease in activity in the central nervous system, which is comprised of the brain and spinal cord. Central nervous system depression can be dangerous because the CNS is responsible for coordinating the functions of all parts of the body; if left untreated, central nervous system depression can result in a coma or death, according to author Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler. Depression in the central nervous system can occur from exposure to narcotics or household products in large quantities. When central nervous system depression happens, immediate medical intervention is needed.

Central Nervous System

The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord, and it is the majority of the nervous system. The central nervous system receives sensory input from the somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system and sends out the motor response.


CNS depression can be triggered by both narcotics and medications, as well as household products. According to Stöppler, the intake of too much drugs, alcohol, sedatives, anti-convulsive medication or anesthetics can lead to central nervous system depression; if prescription medication is taken as prescribed, then CNS depression should not occur. Also, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a high exposure to radiator fluid, deicing agents, dry cleaning chemicals, degreasers and commercial solvents can trigger central nervous system depression. If you work with these materials, be sure to wear the proper safety gear.


According to Stöppler, symptoms of CNS depression include slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, impaired thinking, slurred speech, impaired perception, slowed reflexes and fatigue. These symptoms may start out slowly and take a while after exposure to start; however, this does not mean that depression of the CNS has not happened. As these symptoms get worse, the effects of the central nervous system depression are growing.


According to "Medical Toxicology" by Richard C. Dart, drug treatment can be used to stimulate the heart's activity and increase blood flow; doctors will treat CNS depression by maintaining blood circulation and regular breathing so the patient does not fall into a coma.


CNS depression can be deadly. If you work with any of the listed chemicals and notice any of the systems, call 911 immediately.

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