September 10th, 2010
A recent 12-year Canadian study has found a possible link between medications used to treat anxiety or insomnia and an increased risk of death.
The study, published in the September issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, analyzed Statistics Canada’s National Population Health Survey and tracked the use of sedatives and insomnia medications in more than 14,000 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 102.
Researchers at the Laval University School of Psychology in Quebec discovered a 36 percent increase in mortality rates in participants who used insomnia or anxiety medications at least once a month during the 12-year period.
“These medications aren’t candy, and taking them is far from harmless,” said researcher Geneviève Belleville, a professor at Laval University School of Psychology.
Participants reported their monthly use of anxiety medications such as Valium and insomnia medications such as Nytol, while researchers took into account other factors that could influence mortality rates, such as alcohol and tobacco use and physical activity.
Doctors hypothesize that the medications often affect a patient’s alertness, coordination, and judgment, leaving them vulnerable to accidents, falls, and even suicidal thoughts. The drugs could also worsen sleep apnea, or breathing problems during sleep, which could lead to premature death.
“Given that cognitive behavioral therapies have shown good results in treating insomnia and anxiety, doctors should systematically discuss such therapies with their patients as an option. Combining a pharmacological approach in the short term with psychological treatment is a promising strategy for reducing anxiety and promoting sleep,” said Belleville.
Additional information about drugs and drug side effects may be found on DrugWatch.com.
Note from CCHR: Antianxiety drugs such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Restoril (called benzodiazepines) are some of the most highly addictive psychiatric drugs being marketed to the public. For international warnings/studies on antianxiety drugs visit our psychiatric drug database here https://www.cchrint.org/psychdrugdangers/drug_warnings.php
To see what doctors, pharmacists, health care providers and consumers have reported as side effects caused by these drugs, visit our FDA medwatch reports page here: https://www.cchrint.org/psychdrugdangers/medwatch_psych_drug_adverse_reactions.php