There are now three very important reasons for people with panic attacks to avoid long term use of tranquilizers in the benzodiazepine family. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation online “Health” blog reported Sept. 10 on a Canadian medical study that indicated elderly people taking meds from this family increase the likelihood of developing dementia by about 50%. That was rather astonishing news to me. I had already, based on personal and professional experience, advised against use for more than three months such meds as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Atavin for two big reasons: 1. your body becomes addicted to these meds after only two or three months, as their effectiveness declines. 2. Withdrawal symptoms include unending anxiety that can last for weeks or longer as you taper off. I’m basing this on wide reading in the field, interviews with psychotropic prescribers, and my own addiction to Xanax.
The article in “Health” was referring to a study by French and Canadian university researchers on several thousand Canadians over 65 that was reported on the British Medical Journal web site on Sept. 27, 2012. Using national medical records, the researchers tracked those who developed dementia and then the ones in that population who had been prescribed a benzodiazepine medication. Based on those statistics, university researchers said in the report that those people who were taking a benzodiazepine during the study period were more likely by half to be diagnosed by a neurologist as having Alzheimer’s disease, a dementia-like condition that causes severe loss of memory and even death.
Un-Agoraphobic is a non-pharmaceutical approach to recovering from panic disorder. I can tell you that once I got past the edgy, restless period of withdrawal, I felt more calm then when I’d been taking tranquilizers. I loved my benzos, but I know my recovery from panic disorder was delayed by a long time because of my addiction. If you are taking one of the meds from this family, please begin doing research. The study’s researchers included an advisory in their conclusion that essentially asked medical professionals and medication regulation boards to be prudent when prescribing benzodiazepines.