Anxiety drug benzodiazepine does not trigger dementia: Study

Anxiety drug benzodiazepine does not trigger dementia: Study

If you are apprehensive of taking your medication for anxiety and insomnia thinking it might trigger dementia, then it’s time to get over the fear. A recent study has suggested that medication for anxiety and insomnia is not related to dementia.

The study, conducted by University of Washington (UW) and Group Health in Seattle, says that benzodiazepine, the commonly prescribed drug for anxiety and insomnia, does not lead to dementia.

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to older adults for sleep problems, anxiety and depressive disorders. The study enrolled 3,434 participants at Group Health aged 65 or older without dementia at the beginning of the study. A follow up was conducted for an average of seven years. Irrespective of the new finding, the researchers said that healthcare providers should avoid prescribing benzodiazepines among older adults to keep them away from other health problems.

Data and figures

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), phobias and anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S. aged 18 or older. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a mental condition in which a person is often worried or anxious. And sleep disorder is another problem plaguing the fast-paced world.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says an estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder which can lead to other problems such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity. It affects the quality of life and productivity, and decreases alertness. It also causes memory and cognitive impairment. A big percentage of automobile injury can be attributed to sleep-related disorders.

Previous studies

The new study counters some previous studies which stated that benzodiazepine use could be related to an increased chance of dementia. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2014, a team of researchers from France and Canada said that using benzodiazepine may lead to dementia and it further emphasized that higher the dose, higher the risk involved.

“Benzodiazepines are risky to use in older people because they can cause confusion and slow down mental processes. However, although there is an association, we still can’t say that benzodiazepines actually cause Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Anne Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, in a related report in Harvard Health Publications.

Another related study published in the BMJ in 2012 suggested that using benzodiazepines for dealing with anxiety increased the risk of dementia by about 50 percent. “Considering the extent to which benzodiazepines are prescribed and the number of potential adverse effects of this drug class in the general population, indiscriminate widespread use should be cautioned against,” the study said.

If the effect of medication of anxiety is not considered, anxiety itself increases the risk of dementia, says a recent study. A new study led by researchers of University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences said that people with high anxiety face a 48 percent higher chance of getting dementia compared to those who did not have.

The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease when a person loses brain cells which results in brain shrinking. Dementia is also associated with diseases in which the brain cells degenerate and die more quickly. Early diagnosis can help overcome the problems. However, it has been found that majority of people with dementia do not prefer to go to a doctor.

One needs to be alert to understand the symptoms of dementia and anxiety to take proper treatment at the right time. If you or your loved one is battling an anxiety, the Florida Helpline for Anxiety can help you get the best guidance. Call our 24/7 helpline at 855-920-9834 for further information or chat online with an expert today.