Does anxiety or insomnia increase your risk of memory loss? No, these disorders do not increase your risk of memory loss; it is the treatment of these disorders that increase your risk of memory loss. Treatment for anxiety increases the risk of memory loss which can bring the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Long-term use of benzodiazepine drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia increase the risk of memory loss, Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. This is according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
Benzodiazepine drugs include such drugs as Xanax or Valium, to help ease anxiety or encourage sleep. A recent study from the University of Montreal and Université de Bordeaux found that use of these drugs may relate to a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
These drugs which are mainly used to treat anxiety and insomnia and are widely used in developed countries and are particularly used among the elderly. Although benzodiazepines are known to affect memory and cognition, proving that they contribute to the onset of dementia symptoms is not easy. This is partly because these drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and depression, and these symptoms are also experienced in the years before dementia is diagnosed. In addition, many individuals before the age of fifty also experience these symptoms and are prescribed these drugs to help the individual function in society.
Because Alzheimer’s symptoms develop slowly and can include some of the very problems (like anxiety and insomnia) for which doctors prescribe these drugs, the study looked at Alzheimer’s patients who had not taken benzodiazepines for five years before their diagnoses. These individuals use the drugs occurred five to 10 years earlier. There has been increased scrutiny on the types of drugs being given to seniors, particularly the use of anti-psychotics. There is now a study which suggests a causal link between the use of anti-anxiety meds and memory loss to the onset of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.
Dementia currently affects about 36 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to double every 20 years because of the continual population growth. The estimated number of people with dementia will be 115 million in 2050. There are no effective treatments for dementia, and identifying modifiable risk factors is essential to avoid these forecast human consequences and social costs. The previous research has identified an increased risk of dementia among benzodiazepine users, but the system behind the association, as well as the dosage linked to the risk, has not been apparent. In addition, because of the strong withdrawal symptoms, along with the long-term effectiveness of these drugs provide no evidence of their effects long-term they are continually used to treat anxiety and insomnia continually. Furthermore, international guidelines recommend only a short-term use of these drugs.
In today’s society, there are more people being treated with Xanax and Valium than in previous years. Does this mean there will be more people with dementia than previously predicted because of the use of the benzodiazepines prescribed? Although benzodiazepine users showed a greater risk for dementia and its symptoms, researchers cautioned that they couldn’t prove the medications were causing the individuals to develop dementia. Confusion and short-term cognitive impairments can be side effects of the drugs, but whether these symptoms persist and possibly cause dementia is unknown. Benzodiazepines are risky to use in older people because they can cause confusion and slow down mental processes. The American Geriatrics Society has already recommended avoiding benzodiazepines for the treatment of insomnia, agitation or delirium in older adults. Since seniors are more sensitive to the medications, due to lower metabolism, the drugs might make them more prone to cognitive impairment.
In conclusion, if you are already over 50 and have been taking these drugs for awhile, it may be time to look at other alternatives. Furthermore, the study published in the BMJ, state the long-term use of benzodiazepines, which are used to treat anxiety and insomnia may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In today’s society, it has become apparent that Alzheimer’s or dementia is increasing in older adults, and there is still more research to be completed. Therefore, these drugs may or may not increase the risk, or maybe it is diet or lifestyle. It could be anything.