The chance of developing dementia depends on a variety of factors, some of these can be managed and others cannot be managed. For example, family history is just luck. It is a factor that can’t be changed. However, things that can be modified are diet, alcohol consumption, or medication use.
A new study warns that certain medications may increase your risk of developing dementia later on. Continue reading to find out which medications are most likely to put you at risk, as well as how even short-term use of these medications can lead to problems.
Psychiatric Times published a report in the year 2021, which warns about benzodiazepines–commonly known as “benzos”– have been linked with a high risk of dementia. Benzodiazepines are all psychoactive drugs that can be used to treat seizures, anxiety and insomnia. These include Klonopin and Valium as well as certain generic forms of these drugs and others.
The report states that although there are no randomized controlled studies (RCTs), six prospective cohort studies case-control studies and one retrospective cohort study have examined the relationship between benzodiazepine and dementia. The report mentions 13 studies that found a positive association between dementia and benzodiazepine usage. Two more studies showed mixed results or inconclusive results. None of the remaining studies showed a discernible connection.
A 2016 study, published in BMJ and cited by the report, examined how long patients had used benzodiazepines in relation to cognitive outcomes. Researchers found that developing dementia was linked to short-term use. The study authors stated that it is not clear whether long-term use of benzodiazepines can cause global cognitive decline. This contradicts the commonly held belief that benzodiazepines can be used for short-term purposes. This is usually between two and four weeks.
Experts warn that there are a number of potential side effects associated with benzodiazepines. According to the BMJ research, “These drugs can have many adverse effects including falls, fractures traffic incidents and delirium.”
Benzos have been known to cause blurred vision, confusion, blurred eyesight, motor control loss, slurred speech and muscle weakness. It is not a good idea to stop taking benzos by yourself. For safe withdrawal from benzodiazepines, consult your doctor.
Experts warn that benzos can cause addiction and increase dementia risk. According to the American Addiction Centers, “Benzodiazepines act by slowing the nerve activity of the brain and the rest of the central nervous system, thereby diffusing stressful and its emotional side effects.” Neben their tranquillizing effects, benzodiazepines have been shown to increase “dopamine”, which is a chemical messenger responsible for pleasure and reward. After several weeks of regular use, the brain may become used to taking benzos regularly and cease producing these chemicals without them.
Many users are dependent on benzodiazepines because of their addictive qualities and the fact that many doctors have over-prescribed them. Talk to your doctor if you suspect you are experiencing side effects from benzos or have developed drug-seeking behaviour.