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HomeHealthCan Long Term Use Of Xanax Cause Dementia

Can Long Term Use Of Xanax Cause Dementia

Anxiety And Anxieties About Xanax

Dementia: Link to Antidepressants and Bladder Medicines Discovered by UEA Researchers (Research)

Anxiety makes it hard to concentrate. The persistent feeling of fear stops you from effectively completing tasks at work and home. Symptoms like heart palpitations, restlessness, shortness of breath, sweating and tightness in the throat create thoughts of a possible heart attack or, worse, death.

When you seek treatment, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medicationspecifically, Xanax, which may bring welcome, much-needed relief. In the beginning, all that matters is that the Xanax keeps anxiety at bay no more panic attacks, no more digestive problems and no more missing out on life experiences.

However, taking Xanax for months or years causes many to wonder if it will affect health in the longer term, and it is natural to have these thoughts. Many users wonder if Xanax is bad for them.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports more than 40 million people over the age of 18 in America experience an anxiety disorder. Treatment often includes medicine like Xanax.

At FHE Health, we have seen a reduction in anxiety-related symptoms using Xanax. However, we follow a strict regimen that includes monitoring, combination treatments and eventual weaning off Xanax. Not everyones tapering timeline is the same either. It can depend on individual factors like the severity of an anxiety disorder, other co-occurring conditions, risks of addiction, the nature of symptoms and other considerations.

Where To Learn About Other Drugs That Affect Brain Function

Many other drugs that affect brain function, but they are either not used as often as the ones above, or seem to affect a minority of older adults.

Notably, there has been a lot of concern in the media about statins, but a meta-analysis published in 2015 could not confirm an association between statin use and increased cognitive impairment. In fact, a 2016 study found that statin use was associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimers disease.

This is not to say that statins arent overprescribed or riskier than we used to think. And its also quite possible that some people do have their thinking affected by statins. But if you are trying to eliminate medications that dampen brain function, I would recommend you focus on the ones I listed above first.

For a comprehensive list of medications identified as risky by the experts at the American Geriatrics Society, be sure to review the 2019 Beers Criteria.

You can also learn more about medications that increase fall risk in this article: 10 Types of Medications to Review if Youre Concerned About Falling.

Xanax And Brain Chemistry Short

Xanax works on the brain by enhancing the effect of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid . Some doctors describe GABA as a natural tranquilizer. GABA halts brain signals that would otherwise excite the brain and lead to anxiety or panic. Higher levels of the chemical may cause a person to feel relaxed or sleepy. Xanax is a potent drug which is more powerful than some other benzodiazepines. Also, unlike some other benzodiazepines, Xanax may trigger the brains reward system. This possibility puts people at higher risk of developing an addiction to Xanax compared to other benzodiazepines.

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Anxiety Meds Valium Xanax And Ativan May Not Lead To Dementia After All

The connection between benzodiazepines and dementia has not been especially clear in recent years. Last year, a widely publicized study again found that benzodiazepines–Ativan, Valium, and Xanax–which are often used to treat anxiety and sleep problems, were linked to increased risk for Alzheimers disease in elderly people. This week, another study was published, finding that in the highest doses the same meds are not linked to any increased risk for dementia. And if there is a risk, the authors say, it may be because people with the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which happen to be anxiety and insomnia, may be treated with the very drugs in question. Which makes the connection all the more difficult to tease apart.

Close-up of 0.5mg tablets of the brand name benzodiazepine drug, Ativan .

The new study included over 3,400 people over the age of 65, none of whom had dementia at the beginning of the seven-year study. Every two years, the participants were given cognitive tests for dementia benzodiazepine use was monitored by looking at pharmacy data, and other variables like smoking, activity level and diet were monitored and adjusted for.

Over seven years, just under a quarter of the participants developed dementia, most of which was Alzheimer’s disease.

The highest doses of benzodiazepines–use of the drugs daily for a year–were not linked to any increased risk for dementia. Oddly, low and moderate doses were linked to a slightly increased risk.

Xanax Prescribed For Dementia

Xanax And Other Benzodiazepines Can Cause Dementia And ...

As a persons dementia progresses, caregiversand even the patient themselvesmay find that their symptoms become increasingly difficult and stressful to manage. In such instances, they tend to look for solutions that would help them to manage those symptoms better. While Xanax in itself isnt an FDA approved medication for dementia, many doctors often prescribe it off-label to treat some of the symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, and insomnia.

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Treatment For Xanax Use And Addiction

Many effects of Xanax addiction, including short-term memory loss, are treatable and can get better in time. Although some mental effects of Xanax use can in some cases be permanent, the brain is also a complex organ that is capable of healing with proper treatment.

The first step for many people seeking help for Xanax use is to enter a medical detox program. Although Xanax withdrawal is rarely deadly on its own, it can be dangerous to undergo without medical support. Medical detox services are commonly integrated into inpatient addiction programs to help patients safely withdraw from moderate to severe drug dependence.

Inpatient programs also offer other effective services such as dual-diagnosis programs and behavioral therapy. These can be helpful during the recovery process to help patients learn coping strategies for dealing with their triggers and working through other emotional struggles.

Recovery from Xanax addiction is possible, and youre not alone. Contact us today to find the right treatment program for you or a loved one today.

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What You Can Do About Medications And Difficult Dementia Behaviors

If your relative with dementia is not yet taking medications for behaviors, consider these tips:

  • Start keeping a journal and learn to identify triggers of difficult behaviors. You will need to observe the person carefully. Your journaling will come in handy later if you start medications, as this will help you monitor for benefit and side-effects.
  • Ask your doctor to help assess for pain and/or constipation. Consider a trial of scheduled acetaminophen, and see if this helps.
  • Consider the possibility of depression. Consider a trial of escitalopram or a related antidepressant, but realize any effect will take weeks to appear.
  • For all medications for dementia behaviors:
  • Monitor carefully for evidence of improvement and for signs of side-effects.
  • Doses should be increased a little bit at a time.
  • Especially for antipsychotics, the goal is to find the minimum necessary dose to keep behavior manageable.

If your relative with dementia is currently taking medications for behaviors, then you will have to consider at least the following two issues.

The other issue is to make sure you are aware of any risks or side-effects that the current medications may be causing.

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Proximity Between Exposure And Outcome

New use of benzodiazepines was not significantly associated with an increased risk of dementia regardless of whether the first prescription was 510, 1015, or 1520 years before dementia . Although estimates are imprecise, associations did appear to increase with closer proximity between exposure initiation and outcome.

Association Between New Benzodiazepine Prescriptions and Dementia, According to When the New Prescription Was Issued, in a Nested Case-Control Study in the United Kingdom, December 1988July 2015

No. of DDDs .

Health Effects Of Long

Study: Some Drugs Could Put You At Risk For Dementia

Many people take one or more prescription drugs as part of their daily regimen and worry about the long-term health effects of these drugs. The commonly prescribed, anti-anxiety drug Xanax is a case in point.

This blog is the first in a series that examines popularly prescribed drugs for anxiety and depression and the potential consequences of long-term use. Well address people hesitance to start using these drugs and why typically the expectation when prescribing a drug like Xanax is that its use will be for a limited period of time.

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Study Population And Data

CPRD consists of anonymized electronic health records of 17 million patients from 719 general practices and is representative of age, sex, and ethnicity of the United Kingdom population . Available data include basic demographics and coded details of consultations, diagnoses, reported symptoms, drug prescriptions, referrals to specialist services, and laboratory test results.

Is The Damage Reversible

Some long-term effects of Xanax may be reversible upon cessation of the drug, but others may not. For example, chronic use can result in memory impairment and dementia, mental health conditions which may not be possible to reverse. Conversely, some physical side effects, such as heart palpitations and edema, may return to normal after the medication has been discontinued.

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Benzodiazepines Do Not Directly Increase Dementia Risk Still Not Advised For Elderly

Benzodiazepines are a common class of medication used for anxiety and sleep problems. New research finds that although the drugs do not increase the risk of dementia, health professionals are advised to avoid their use in older adults.

Common benzodiazepines are clonazepam , lorazepam , diazepam , and alprazolam .

Although research published in the British Medical Journal did not find a cause and effect increased dementia risk, the use of benzodiazepines among older adults may lead to adverse health outcomes.

Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed among older adults to manage sleep, anxiety, and depressive disorders. The new study sought to resolve conflicting findings on whether benzodiazepines could increase risk of dementia.

A team of US researchers at the University of Washington and Group Health in Seattle, led by UW Professor of Pharmacy Shelly Gray, designed the study to determine whether higher cumulative use of benzodiazepines is associated with a higher risk of dementia or more rapid cognitive decline.

Their study involved 3,434 participants at Group Health aged 65 and older without dementia at study entry, who were followed for an average of seven years. Cognitive screening was carried out when participants entered the study and again every two years.

Longitudinal observational studies, such as this, do not show cause and effect, but can be used to explore the relationship between benzodiazepine use and risk of dementia over time.

Impact Of Each Covariate

Understanding the Process of Benzodiazepine Detox ...

The number of physician consultations, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and antidepressant prescriptions each substantially modified the estimated association between benzodiazepine use and dementia incidence when added to the conditional logistic regression models, whereas other factors did not . Covariates modified the association more when measured at the end of the DEP patterns were similar for prevalent and incident use.

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Find Treatment For Xanax Addiction At Phoenix Rising Recovery

Withdrawal symptoms from the effects of Xanax can be intense. Thus, they should be monitored closely by medical professionals. Luckily, Phoenix Rising Recovery contains all the medical and addiction treatment professionals that individuals need to not only manage their Xanax withdrawal symptoms, but also to overcome their Xanax addictions.

Phoenix Rising Recovery is located in Palm Desert, California. Our campus provides an environment of healing and renewal.

Our treatment plan for you or your loved ones addiction to Xanax has one goal to help you achieve recovery. Maintaining your new, sober life will require you to end your use of Xanax. In order for you to become sober though, you will need guidance from our staff. You and the Phoenix Rising Recovery staff will together design an addiction treatment plan that meets your individual needs.

We want to help you through the addiction recovery process. Thats why we here at Phoenix Rising Recovery are an addiction treatment facility that provides individuals with the support that they need to overcome their substance addictions. Contact Phoenix Rising Recovery today to learn how we can help you fight your addiction to Xanax.

What To Do If You Or Your Relative Is On These Medications

So what should you do if you discover that your older relative or you yourself are taking some of these medications?

If its an over-the-counter anticholinergic, you can just stop it. Allergies can be treated with non-sedating antihistamines like loratadine , or you can ask the doctor about a nasal steroid spray. PM painkillers can be replaced by the non-PM version, and remember that the safest OTC analgesic for older adults is acetaminophen .

If you are taking an over-the-counter sleep aid, it contains a sedating antihistamine and those are strongly anticholinergic. You can just stop an OTC sleep aid, but in the short term, insomnia often gets worse. So youll need to address the insomnia with non-drug techniques.

You should also discuss any insomnia or sleep problems with your doctors its important to rule out pain and serious medical problems as a cause of insomnia but be careful: many of them will prescribe a sleeping pill, because they havent trained in geriatrics and they under-estimate the risks of these drugs.

If one or more of the medications above has been prescribed, dont stop without first consulting with a health professional. Youll want to make an appointment soon, to review the reasons that the medication was prescribed, alternative options for treating the problem, and then work out a plan to reduce or eliminate the drug.

Now go check out those medication bottles, and let me know what you find!

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A Fifth Type Of Medication That Affects Brain Function

Opiate pain medications. Unlike the other drugs mentioned above, opiates are not on the Beers list of medications that older adults should avoid. That said, they do seem to dampen thinking abilities a bit, even in long-term users. As far as I know, opiates are not thought to accelerate long-term cognitive decline.

  • Commonly prescribed opiates include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codeine, methadone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl.
  • Tramadol is a weaker opiate with weaker prescribing controls.
  • Many geriatricians consider it more problematic than the classic Schedule II opiates listed above, as it interacts with a lot of medications and still affects brain function. Its a dirty drug, as one of my friends likes to say.
  • Alternatives depend on what type of pain is present. Generally, if people are taking opiates then they have pain that needs to be treated. However, a thoughtful holistic approach to pain often enables a person to get by with less medication, which can improve thinking abilities.
  • For people who have moderate or severe dementia, its important to know that untreated pain can worsen their thinking. So sometimes a low dose of opiate medication does end up improving their thinking.
  • Other risks in older adults:
  • There is some risk of developing a problematic addiction, especially if theres a prior history of substance abuse. But in my experience, having someone else usually younger steal or use the drugs is a more likely problem.
  • Does Xanax Cause Permanent Memory

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    Long-term use of Xanax may lead to memory problems. Studies showed that people taking Xanax have more memory problems compared to people not using the drug. Doctors found that people who stopped Xanax use have memory problems that last four months. These memory problems may be permanent in some cases.

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    Xanax: Length Of Use & Effect Size

    Those who used Xanax, or similar drugs, for 3 or more years in a row showed a higher risk of developing of dementia compared to those who only used them in the short term.

    There are short, medium, and long-acting versions of drugs like Xanax. Short-acting lasts less than 12 hours, medium-acting lasts 12 to 24 hours, and long-acting lasts 24 hours or more. Researchers measured if the life-span of the drug influenced the risk of dementia.

    They found that subjects who took long-acting drugs had a slightly higher risk of dementia compared to short and medium-acting versions. Specifically, subjects who took Xanax-like drugs that lasted 20 hours or more were 16% more likely to develop dementia, which is not a very convincing number.

    Benzodiazepines And Dementia: Concern In Older Adults Is Warranted Analysts Say

    Growing evidence of a link between benzodiazepines and Alzheimers disease in older adults warrants concern and caution, say clinicians from the Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Akron, OH, in a new review.

    There is no evidence that benzodiazepines cause dementia, the investigators said. But the drugs association with poor cognitive outcomes and frequent use of benzodiazepines among older adults should prompt clinicians to remain wary when prescribing the drug to this population, contend Rajesh R. Tampi, M.D., and Adriane Bennett, Ph.D, in an article in Psychiatric Times.

    The reviewers a psychiatrist and a psychologist found that more than half of the qualified studies they examined tied benzodiazepine use to the development of dementia. Other studies found no relationship or mixed results, but one investigation also revealed that nearly half of the prescriptions for benzodiazepine among older adults are potentially inappropriate.

    Meanwhile, concerns have risen about long-term use, dangerous combinations with other drugs, and association with falls and dependence in the elderly.

    An Athena Health Group study in 2016 found that prescriptions continue to rise as patients age, peaking after age 65. Whats more, older women are prescribed benzodiazepines at nearly twice the rate as their male peers, the study found.

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