Anti-anxiety agents and sleeping pills may put older people at increased risk for dementia. That is the conclusion of a long-term French study of senior citizens. Over 1000 men and women were recruited in the late 1980s. They were 65 or older and were followed up for 15 years. None had signs of Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive impairment at the start of the study and none were taking benzodiazepines such as Valium, Librium or Xanax. These volunteers were assessed every couple years during the course of the study. Experts evaluated their memory, mood, and medication use.
Almost a third of the people who began taking anti-anxiety drugs during the study had developed dementia by the end of it. 23 percent of those who did not take such medications were diagnosed with cognitive impairment. The investigators concluded that “new use of benzodiazepines was associated with a significant, approximately 50% increase in the risk of dementia.”
[BMJ, online Sept. 27, 2012]

Join Over 80,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Judy C.

    Is Venlafaxine a Benzodiazepine? I take a light dose of that.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.