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Anti-anxiety and sleeping pills may double risk of death

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Taking pills for anxiety or sleep may increase risk of death.

A new, large-scale study from the University of Warwick has found that sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs, such as Xanax, are linked to a higher risk of death.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), demonstrated that numerous anti-anxiety drugs and hypnotic sleep agents could possibly double the risk of mortality.

Researcher Scott Weich, a Warwick professor of psychiatry, said that the main message to understand from the study is to use such drugs more carefully.

He added that there is an increasing amount of evidence that the side effects of these drugs are “significant and dangerous”, and that everything possible needs to be done to reduce people from over relying on mind-numbing tranquilizers and sleeping pills.

Although such drugs can lead to dependency and addiction, Weich noted that they do offer an effective treatment that can be beneficial in certain cases for some people.

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The problem, Weich explained, is the addictive potential of anti-anxiety and sleeping pills, which means making sure patients take as few of them as possible, while considering alternative options like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for helping such patients learn how to better manage and overcome their anxiety or sleep problems.

For the study, researchers analyzed the medical records of 34,727 people, following them from the time they were first prescribed an antianxiety or sleeping medication until 7.5 years later on average.

Among the most commonly prescribed drugs were benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, as well as diazepam and temazepam.

The study also examined the effects of two other classes of sleep agents: 1) the so-called "Z-drugs"; and 2) all other anxiolytic and hypnotic drugs.

During the course of the study, numerous patients received more than one drug – and 5 percent received prescriptions for drugs from all three groups.

The study also accounted for other factors, such as age, smoking and alcohol use, as well as for other prescriptions and the socioeconomic status of the participants.

SOURCE: "Effect of anxiolytic and hypnotic drug prescriptions on mortality hazards: retrospective cohort study." Scott Weich, et al. BMJ: DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g1996. Published 19 March 2014



I am photocopying this to give to the numerous Drs that seem intent on ruining my life on this earth by making me take drugs. you know why the drug companies don't want you to know the truth or to be empowered....theyd loose money, and as we all know money makes the world go round right??!! you know i was watching Constantine the other morning with my dad, it mentions the demon mammon. My dad said that means money... . how stupid some of us humans are - especially. The ones that are supposed to be knowlegeable!!!to me the more of a freak (mental patient or insomniac etc etc etc) the more valuable and sane you are!!!! peace (its all going in the book)
Hi Dee. You need to understand that doctors have no choice in the matter. They do not look for causes of diseases because they have to operate (pardon the pun) within the guidelines of the AMA, and that means drugs. Basically they are licensed drug dealers and as all drugs are chemicals alien to the human system they invoke immune reactions which weaken immunity. All diseases are a product of what we put in our mouth. Food or drink! That is where it starts. If it is beneficial the brain triggers a digestive response. If it is harmful it triggers an immune response. If what is perceived as harmful is consumed daily we get a nutritional imbalance, a weakened immune system, resulting in disease. No disease has ever been caused by a lack of drugs.