Anxiety Medications May Not Increase Dementia Risk

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Medications-300x211.jpg​​​​In recent years, there has been some concern raised over the possibility that some common anti-anxiety medications might be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. Because of this concern, some doctors and patients have been hesitant to use anti-anxiety medications in situations in which they might otherwise be considered appropriate. But new information suggests that use of anti-anxiety medications does not make dementia development more likely.

New Study

A new study published in the BMJ looked directly at the question of whether benzodiazepines – a class of medications that includes Valium and Xanax – raise dementia risk. Entitled “Benzodiazepine use and risk of incident dementia or cognitive decline: prospective population based study,​” the study looked at 3,434 individuals who were age 65 and up. None of the individuals was diagnosed with dementia when the study began.

The scientists looked at whether each patient was prescribed benzodiazepine (and if so, when, for how long, how much, etc.). The participants were followed for a period of seven years.

During that time, 23% of the patients developed some form of dementia; however, there was no association between their use of any of the anti-anxiety medications and whether they developed dementia.

The results of the study are positive, but it is hoped that further studies will be done which can replicate these results. In general, results need to be proven to be consistent across several well-designed studies to have greater validity.

Not Just About Dementia

However, the researchers did point out that just because a medication is not associated with a higher risk of dementia does not mean that it is appropriate for use in all situations. There are other side effects which may be associated with any of these drugs which also need to be taken into consideration before they are prescribed for use.

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