Physician Prescribed Alzheimer’s

My appreciation for medical science is very great. Without all the wonderful advances, I would either not be here or I would be hobbling around on knees that don’t work.  Still, there are advances and then there are dollars. One of the most lucrative products, for the big pharmaceutical manufacturers, has been the various psychotropic drugs like Zoloft, Risperdal, Wellbutin and the other “anti-depressants” and anxiolytics. But another group is prescribed about as often, the Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin.

In fact the first two are often the goto drug in hospitals to help calm a patient’s anxieties in the face of painful procedures. And that’s a good thing. I’m not against all medications. But there are dangers in all of them. I have often found anti-depressant induced depression (I know that sounds wierd, but check out the I’net and you will find that it is a frequent occurance–sometimes leading to suicide. That’s why they were forced to put it on the label.) in my clients and when they induced their physician to either lower the dose, change drugs and wean off of their anti-depressant, the depression lessened and became amenable to REBT, CT or some other form of psychotherapy.

This article comes from Science Daily, an excellent news source for the latest discoveries.


Benzodiazepines & Alzheimer's DiseaseIf you’re taking an anti-anxiety medication referred to as a benzodiazepine — such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan or Klonopin — there’s a new eye-opening study out that should get your attention.

When used PRN — on as needed basis — sparingly for times of increased anxiety, these drugs can be life-savers.

But some people use them more frequently. And for those kinds of users, new research suggests an important link to the risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s.


Benzodiazepines are a common class of medications prescribed for anxiety disorders, as well as for insomnia. Drugs such as Xanax and Ativan regularly top our list of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications. They usually have few side effects in most people who take them, and are generally well-tolerated. However, their popularity may have a darker side.

In the new study, Canadian and French researchers wanted to better understand the association of various medical conditions and benzodiazepine use. They looked at the medical records of nearly 1,800 older (most over the age of 80) patients with Alzheimer’s and compared their medical records to those of over 7,000 control subjects.

While both groups had large numbers of benzodiazepine users, the Alzheimer’s group had 51 percent more such users than the control group.

But those who took the drugs longer were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In older patients who took daily doses for 91 to 180 days, the risk rose 32 percent, compared to those who took none. In those who took daily doses for more than 180 days, the risk was 84 percent higher.

The association persisted whether users took 180 doses over six months or over five years, Dr. Pariente said. It also held when the researchers controlled for health and demographic factors, including conditions like anxiety, depression and insomnia.

The link was stronger to longer-acting forms of the drug, like Valium, than to formulations that leave the body more quickly, like Ativan and Xanax.

To combat the chicken-and-the-egg problem (maybe people with Alzheimer’s disease are simply more likely to take benzodiazepines after developing some of the early symptoms of the disease, but before its actual diagnosis), the researchers were also careful to look at Alzheimer’s patients who had not taken benzodiazepines for five years before their diagnoses.1

If you take benzodiazepines, the key apparently is to not build up a tolerance for them. It also appears important to limit your dose of them over time. In the study, 180 daily doses — whether daily or over the course of 5 years — put someone at this greater risk for Alzheimer’s.

Benzodiazepines are a valuable medication — especially for those who need occasional anxiety relief. But they should not generally be used for long-term sleep or anxiety problems. Studies such as this one point out risks that are only becoming more clear now.

And of course, as with all medications, do not stop taking them without first consulting with your doctor. This Canadian brochure has helped many taper off of benzodiazepines, and it may help you as well.



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