How sleep and anxiety drugs linked to Dementia?

According to NHS, at least one out of three people have constant bouts of insomnia and these people resort to sleeping pills or anxiety pills. However, a new research by the French team says that these medications such as Valium and Xanax, meant for psychiatric treatments could trigger early onset of Dementia.

Many elderly people who have sleep problems resort to intake of Benzodiazepines and are likely to develop Dementia within a period of 15 years. This drug is basically prescribed for treating anxiety due to sleep loss. Of course, there are other factors such as age, diabetes, gender and early symptoms of dementia which all have an impact on the intake of this medication.

What the research says

There are factors why people resort to taking Benzodiazepines in the first place. The use of this medication is not only for stopping anxiety and sleep disorder but for controlling falls in older adults. As such, the research is not a solution to the direct cause and effect of the problem but just an association between dementia and the drugs.

The potentiality of adverse effects of this drug is widespread and researchers caution its indiscriminate use to prevent any side effects. When patients are prescribed Benzodiazepines, they need to be kept under observation and should not allow the drug to become a habit.

There are cases of older people who become constantly dependent on the drug which in turn aggravates the dementia earlier. These drugs should not be allowed to become a permanent medication but only for a specified period to help the patient.

Risk of dementia

The researchers have found out that about 32% of Benzodiazepines or users of similar drugs are prone to developing memory loss and slower thinking process. The drugs take an effect on the brain functioning in addition to high blood pressure, depression and diabetes in older people.

Further, the effect of depression increases as this has a direct association with dementia. Researchers are of the view that such drugs should be for a short-term period as it has direct impact not only on memory loss but can be cause of risk for falls and car accidents. However, researchers are yet in the dark when it comes to whether the drugs have an effect on younger people as opposed to senior people.

Researchers are not sure whether younger people who take the drug in their 40s are subject to dementia as they have not conducted any study in younger patients.

Further research

The researchers however suggest that seniors who suffer from sleep disorder and anxiety ought to find other alternatives rather than Benzodiazepines. The root cause of a patient’s disease has to be thoroughly screened as many elderly people are unable to sleep due to depression.

Therefore, giving a cure for depression may be one way of keeping a patient away from the harmful drug in the long run. Many elderly people have depression which leads to sleepless nights. The lifestyle of these patients may need changes as well.

Experts are of the view that further research needs to be carried out as they are yet not able to determine what causes dementia. Meanwhile, researchers emphasize proper monitoring while giving treatments for sleep problems and anxiety.

About the author: Alia is a blogger by profession. She loves writing, reading and travelling. She is against drug culture among celebrities and believes that celebrities like Paris Hilton should make better role models for society.