Benzodiazepines are often one of the most common drugs used in the treatment of psychiatric problems and conditions, but this practice should be stopped because of the increased dementia risks that may be posed by these drugs. According to the latest research and evidence the use of benzodiazepines will increase the risk that the patient will experience dementia or even death because of the use of these drugs. Some of the drugs in this class include Klonopin, Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. The FDA approved benzodiazepines in the 1960s because these drugs were considered to be a safer option than the barbiturates that were used at the time. In spite of new protocols for psychiatric conditions a number of medical professionals still prescribe patients benzodiazepines in order to treat things like anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and even generalized anxiety.
North Texas University Health Science Center Director of Osteopathic Medical Education and board-certified psychiatrist Helene Alphonso, DO, discussed the research concerning benzodiazepines and dementia risks, saying “Current research is extremely clear and physicians need to partner with their patients to move them into therapies, like antidepressants, that are proven to be safer and more effective. Due to a shortage of mental health professionals in rural and underserved areas, we see primary care physicians using this class of drugs to give relief to their patients with psychiatric symptoms. While compassionate, it’s important to understand that a better long-term strategy is needed.” The research shows that taking benzodiazepines for 2-6 months increased dementia and Alzheimer’s risks by 34%, and taking these drugs for longer than 6 months increased the risks by an amazing 84%.