Drugs like Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin are often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. And despite psychiatric protocols, some doctors still prescribe them as a primary treatment for insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and other ailments.
If you’re taking one of these medications, it may be time to have a talk with your physician. That’s because patients taking benzodiazepines have a heightened risk for dementia and death.
“Current research is extremely clear and physicians need to partner with their patients to move them into therapies, like anti-depressants, that are proven to be safer and more effective,” says Dr. Helene Alphonso, Director of Osteopathic Medical Education at North Texas University Health Science Center.
A Canadian review of 9,000 patients found that…
- Taking benzodiazepine for three to six months raised the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 32 percent.
- Taking it for more than six months boosted the risk by 84 percent.
- The only safe threshold was taking the drug for three months or less.
These numbers are significant. That’s because research shows that almost 15 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 35 use the drug long-term. And that number grows with age. Long-term use is over 31 percent for people between 65 and 80 years.
Worse yet, the 65 and older group are more susceptible to falls, injuries, accidental overdose and death when taking the drugs. These are the same people who are most likely to take benzodiazepines long-term. Because of these risks, the American Geriatric Society labeled the drugs “inappropriate” for treating insomnia, agitation or delirium in 2012.
“It’s imperative to transition older patients because we’re seeing a very strong correlation between use of benzodiazepines and development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. While correlation certainly isn’t causation, there’s ample reason to avoid this class of drugs as a first-line therapy,” Dr. Alphonso said.SOURCES:
Benzodiazepines ineffective in treating anxiety disorders and may increase dementia risk. Press Release. American Osteopathic Association via EurekAlert. Oct 2015.
This article was republished with permission from Nutri-Health.
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