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Taking this medication for even a short period of time increases dementia risk


Taking this medication for even a short period of time increases dementia risk


A number of factors can affect your risk of developing dementia, some of which you can control and others that you cannot. Your family history, for example, is purely random, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t change your age. Diet, alcohol consumption, and medication use, on the other hand, are considered modifiable.

A new study warns that taking one medication, in particular, may increase your risk of developing dementia later in life—and that’s far from the only disadvantage of this medication. Continue reading to find out which commonly prescribed medications may be putting you at risk, and why even short-term use can be dangerous, according to Best Life Online.

A Psychiatric Times report from 2021 warns that benzodiazepine, a psychoactive drug used to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia, has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. It is frequently marketed as Klonopin, Valium, Librium, Ativan, and other brand and generic names.

“Although there are no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) looking at the association between benzodiazepine use and the risk for dementia, six prospective cohort studies, six case-control studies, and one retrospective cohort study explore the relationship,” the report says. Of the 13 studies mentioned in the report, eight showed a positive association between benzodiazepine use and dementia, and two more showed mixed or inconclusive results. The remaining studies found no discernible link.

One study found that even “short-term use” of the drug was linked to higher dementia risk.

A 2016 study published in BMJ and cited in the report investigated how long patients used the drug in relation to cognitive outcomes. The scientists found that long-term use of the medication was linked to the development of dementia. “It remains uncertain whether long-term use is associated with global cognitive decline,” the study authors wrote. This complicates the widely held notion that benzodiazepines are considered safe for short-term use, a period typically defined as two to four weeks for this particular drug.

Benzodiazepine can cause other worrisome side effects.

Experts warn that benzodiazepines have long been linked to a range of potentially bad side effects. “These drugs are associated with many deleterious effects, including falls, fractures, traffic incidents, and delirium,” explains the BMJ study.

Benzos are also known to cause drowsiness, confusion, blurred vision, loss of motor control, slurred speech, slowed breathing, muscle weakness, and other side effects. You should not, however, try to stop using on your own. Speak with your doctor about how to safely trim off benzodiazepines.

These meds put users at high risk of addiction.

Experts warn that in addition to raising dementia risk and triggering other side effects, benzos can also be habit-forming. “Benzodiazepines work by slowing down nerve activity in the brain and the rest of the central nervous system, thereby diffusing stress and its physical and emotional side effects,” explains the American Addiction Centers. In addition to their tranquilizing effects, benzodiazepines are known to release “dopamine in the brain, which is the chemical messenger involved in reward and pleasure. The brain may learn to expect the regular doses of benzos after a few weeks of taking them and therefore stop working to produce these chemicals on its own without them.”

Many users have become dependent on benzodiazepines as a result of their addictive properties and many doctors’ willingness to over-prescribe the drug. Consult your doctor if you believe you are experiencing negative side effects from this medication or if you have developed drug-seeking behaviors as a result of its use.

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