New study links Xanax and Valium to Alzheimer’s
From Dr. David Eifrig, MD, MBA, Editor, Retirement Millionaire:
Xanax may give you Alzheimer’s disease…
Last month, scientists at the Osteopathic Medical Conference & Exposition presented research about anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, called benzodiazepines. They stated that these popular drugs are actually ineffective for anxiety and probably increase the risk of dementia, particularly in older patients.
The research supports the results of a Canadian study done last year. Published in the medical journal BMJ, the study found that taking benzodiazepines for three to six months increased dementia risk by 32%. Worse, taking them longer than six months increased risk by 84%.
Aside from treating panic disorders and anxiety, doctors also prescribe benzodiazepines for epilepsy and insomnia. They work by stimulating a chemical in your brain called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is like the brakes on your car. It slows your reactions and calms you down.
But this study and other research casts doubt on how well they really work for anxiety and if they are worth the risk… especially for seniors who have behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.
Longtime subscribers know my stance on antidepressants. Several studies indicate that much of an antidepressant’s power comes from the placebo effect. In other words, the act of simply taking something the patient believes will help – even if it has no physiological effect – makes the patient feel better.
Doctors overprescribe these drugs and keep patients on them for too long. These pills are only intended for short-term treatments… and the longer you take them, the worse the side effects and risks.
We’re going to follow this research for now… and see if we’re right about benzodiazepines producing a placebo effect the way antidepressants do. If you’re on one of these drugs for anxiety, talk to your doctor about your treatment plan and when you can start weaning yourself off. Don’t quit all at once, though. Cutting yourself off suddenly can lead to dangerous side effects, as well.
In the meantime, you can try some of the natural ways to help ease anxiety and depression. As I’ve recommended before, scents – particularly rose and lavender –have proven calming effects (see #6 here). And practicing meditation (see #5 here) slows the activity in parts of your brain associated with anxiety.
Crux note: Dr. David Eifrig, or “Doc” as we call him around here, is always looking for the best ways to help his readers live healthier, wealthier, and as you can see above, even happier. Doc’s latest project has been learning all about how the brand new Social Security laws will affect his readers in 2016. In short, he’s found that married couples and divorced women will be hit the hardest by the new rules.
So he recently teamed up with one of the foremost Social Security experts in the world to show his readers how to protect themselves from a drop in benefits. You can learn all the details on Doc’s research right here.