Benzodiazepines Can Cause Dementia and Other Serious Side Effects

Psychiatric drugs such as Xanax and Valium are pretty much on the same level of notoriety as Prozac and Zoloft.  However, Xanax and Valium are not antidepressants but are benzodiazepines.   Benzodiazepines have sedative and hypnotic effects.  They are widely prescribed for treatment of anxiety and insomnia.  In fact, one hundred million people are prescribed these drugs each year.  If so many people are taking them, does that mean they are safe and effective?  Absolutely not!

In today’s world, most would agree that life is not a walk in the park.  There are more pressures from everyday life than there ever were before.  As a result, people can get anxious or they can’t sleep or both.  Other factors can cause these conditions and of course the degree of anxiety and insomnia can be anywhere from mild to severe.  In any case, the question is, are you willing to take psychiatric drugs for these conditions if they cause severe side effects?  What if they can cause dementia later on in your life?

This is exactly what a new research study has found and that is long-term use of benzodiazepines increases the risk of dementia.  Benzodiazepines are supposed to be used for short periods of time.  However, some people have been on these drugs for years.   Among a group of adults over sixty-five years old, those that used benzodiazepines were fifty percent more likely to develop dementia over a fifteen year period.

This is not a new discovery.  Three other studies within the last decade or so all found the same results.  They found that benzodiazepines significantly increased the risk of dementia despite taking into consideration other factors that might contribute to developing this condition.  The conclusion was that these drugs have too many adverse side effects so they are not to be readily prescribed for widespread use.  In addition, the elderly who are already at risk for various health situations, should avoid these entirely.

If dementia isn’t bad enough, premature death is also a possibility from taking benzodiazepines.  In a study on sleep aid drugs which included benzodiazepines, it was found that it is four times more likely that premature death could take place from taking sleep aid drugs than if you weren’t taking anything.  This fourfold risk even applied to those patients who took less than eighteen pills a year! This information should make anyone reconsider how they want to handle their insomnia.

Xanax and Valium in particular have multiple dangerous side effects.  For starters, benzodiazepines are as addictive as heroin.  These drugs also have side effects such as suicidal thoughts, violence, seizures, hallucinations, depression, coma and blurred vision.  Clearly these drugs are not to be taken lightly as they pose extreme threats to one’s well-being.

Xanax has that sedating effect like alcohol does and has even been termed “alcohol in a pill.”   Xanax has more detrimental results than anything associated with alcohol.   Dr. Peter Breggin, a prominent psychiatrist, stated that Xanax is the most dangerous benzodiazepine but others aren’t excluded from the adverse side effects.  He said that these drugs alter judgment, cause memory problems and issues with self-control.

Dr. Breggin said they eventually erode all mental faculties without the person really understanding that this has occurred to them.  They perhaps forget how many pills they took and then take more or add other medications thus leading to overdose or abuse.  For the elderly, it can make them drowsy or dizzy thus leading to accidents such as falling down or getting a hip fracture.

It is not surprising that another study showed that benzodiazepines cause brain damage.  Brain scans of long-term users showed damage and decrease in size.  The brain had actually shrunk.  This type of drug also puts one at risk for certain types of cancer.  All this information just shows that there are no benefits from taking these drugs and plenty of risks to consider.  It’s supposed to be the other way around.

The question then remains how to handle anxiety and insomnia.  It must be noted that anxiety is definitely something people experience, but telling people they have social anxiety disorder (SAD), general anxiety disorder (GAD), or panic disorder is just plain ridiculous.  Psychiatry has no medical or scientific test that identifies or proves such “disorders” exist, so there is no need whatsoever to take a mind-altering drug to handle anxiety or insomnia.  Without the test, the condition is subjective, so don’t let an opinion of your symptoms push you down the psychiatric drug path.

It would be optimum to find out what exactly is causing the problem.  Benzodiazepines don’t find the real source of the insomnia or anxiety.  They just create a sedative effect to force relaxation.  A safer and more reliable route is without drugs.  There are many natural remedies available if you look.

Regular exercise is essential for a healthy body and to improve mood.  It would be smart to examine your diet as well and reduce sugar, grains and processed foods.  It is also beneficial to eat things that support your gut which is a major factor for physical and mental health.

There is a wealth of information that will tell you that good physical health means good mental health.  It would be wise to find a non-psychiatric oriented doctor who can do a very thorough medical examination.  Wouldn’t it be better to find a physical cause instead of thinking something is wrong with your mind?  Check it out so you can experience a long healthy life and not the serious adverse side effects of benzodiazepines.

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