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Do Sleep Aids, Antidepressants Cause Dementia in the Elderly?
Benzodiazepines are psychiatric drugs commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan,and Klonopin. However, recent studies have shown that elderly benzodiazepine-users over 65 years old are 50% more likely to develop dementia in a 15-year period than their non-benzodiazepine-using peers.
In this study, researchers examined 1,063 dementia-free French seniors (median age of 78), with 95 of the patients taking benzodiazepines long-term. Upon the 20-year follow-up, researchers saw that a total of 253 patients developed dementia: 30 patients in the benzodiazepine group (32%), and 223 in the non-benzodiazepine group (23%). After accounting for other various factors related to dementia (age, gender, cognitive decline, etc.), experts found that the chance of a dementia diagnosis was 4.8 per 100 person years in the benzodiazepine group, compared to 3.2 per 100 person years in the non-benzodiazepine group.
Although effective at treating insomnia and anxiety, medical professionals are now concerned that benzodiazepines “may induce adverse outcomes in the elderly, such as serious falls, fall-related fractures and, now, dementia.”
While researchers cannot directly attribute the prolonged use of benzodiazepines and dementia for users over 65 years old, the strong causal link may signal the end of “uncontrolled [benzodiazepine] use.”
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.