Taking Benzodiazepines for Anxiety and Insomnia Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Deaths, Study Finds

Taking Benzodiazepines for Anxiety and Insomnia Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Deaths, Study Finds
Alzheimer’s patients who take benzodiazepines for anxiety, agitation, and insomnia are at a 40 percent greater risk of death than those who don’t take the therapies, a study reports. The research, “Risk of death associated with new benzodiazepine use among persons with Alzheimer disease: A matched cohort study,” was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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  1. We are now supposed to use SSRIs for anxiety, because benzodiazepines heighten dementia risk. O.k. so in my experience of 32 years as a physician, SSRIs work minimally if at all for anxiety, so I would be putting a patient at heightened risk for dementia with a drug that isn’t even effective for their anxiety. The risk benefit ratio isn’t worth it. Any honest doctor knows gabapentin, Lyrica, hydroxyzine, et al don’t work for anxiety either. That leaves only benzodiazepines, but at least they work! If I am discouraged from giving a benezodiazepine to an anxiety patient and don’t do so, they either wrap their car around a tree during a panic attack or self medicate with alcohol. Are these scenarios better than giving a benzodiazepine? Medicine today lacks common sense, lacks seeing the bigger picture. Further, many menopausal women in the 1950’s took diazepam. It wasn’t addictive back then. So why is it now addictive 70 years later? Does anyone see the logic in my argument here? The Harvard and University of London studies showing the relationship between benzodiazepines and dementia was funded by drug companies with new anti anxiety medications being developed in their R and D. Getting the picture? I am sick of being the cause of patients death from accidents during a panic attack because I am restricted from giving them the only drug that works. And for patient with life long anxiety, what is the addiction issue? They are always going to need the drug. Where has the common sense in medicine gone regarding anxiety treatment?. So many classes of medications are shown to cause dementia including statins and antibiotics. Why are we picking on benezodiazepines? Why are we were squelching our ability to treat the very common problem of anxiety, that 50 of my patients have? What is wrong with this picture? I hope anyone reading this sees the common sense here and realizes benezodiazepines are the only effective treatment for anxiety and takes it off the list of medications discouraged that we prescribe. Help me save the life of my patients. Please.

    • I meant to add at the beginning of the article that SSRIs, the now standard treatment for anxiety are also shown to increase dementia risk. Probably all the Cymbalta I’ve been taking has impaired my cognitive function and I can no longer put together a coherent reply. Dr. Nordin

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