What to Do for Anxiety? “Benzodiazepines, of course.” Hold on There, Partner!

by | Jun 24, 2013

What to do for anxiety? Well, you just left the doc’s office with a script for Klonopin. So, I guess that’s that. Or is it? Plenty of downside to benzo use, especially long-term. Yep, hold on there, partner.

If you’re pondering how to treat your anxiety, benzodiazepines may seem like an easy – even logical – choice. However…

Having used clonazepam (Klonopin) on a daily basis for two years many moons ago, I have no doubt our friend’s anxiety will lessen in intensity. The bigger issue is, at what cost?

Oh, s/he may be aware of the potential for tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal from benzodiazepines (benzos). But I wonder about being dialed in on the potential awful consequences of long-term use?

Couple of things before we roll. It’s on me to bring you objective information regarding anything having to do with the mood and anxiety disorders. It’s not on me to tell you what, or what not, to do – or pass judgment.

I’m not a physician but take your benzo issues to yours. A counselor wouldn’t hurt either.

Okay, let’s go…

A Quick Benzodiazepine Review

Two years ago, I posted a three-part series on the benzos. Plenty of important information, so be sure to start with part one and link your way through.

Thing is, though, I didn’t include much about the potential for major issues from long-term use. And I need to make that right.

In review, the benzodiazepines – alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Restoril), and many more – act upon our most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Depending on the benzo, the action can be sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and amnesic-dissociative.

Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use

I think most folks are aware of the potential for tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal when it comes to benzo use. The possible hazards of long-term use? I’m not so sure.

By the way, there isn’t a solid definition of “long-term use.” It frustratingly varies from researcher to researcher, doc to doc, case to case.

Effects of Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use

how long should i stay on benzos

“Hmm, I had no idea. I really need to think this over.”

As I list effects of long-term benzo use, understand they don’t present in 100% of cases. Still, it’s important to know what you may be facing should you have an extended relationship with benzos.

You’ll see I’ve included cognitive issues. Now, there’s been a lot of talk about long-term benzo use causing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We’ll honor the potential, but keep in mind that as research progresses, what was believed to be true may be disproved.

Okay, let’s take a look..

  • General cognitive impairment
  • Impaired concentration and memory
  • Personality changes
  • Perceptual disturbances
  • Disinhibition
  • Aggression
  • Emotional clouding
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Derealization/depersonalization
  • Social deterioration
  • Problems at work/school
  • Exacerbation of physical and emotional/mental conditions
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Paresthesia
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Sleep problems
  • Immunological disorders

A stunning list, don’t you think? No doubt about it, this can be scary business.

Which brings me to a pet peeve: lack of informed consent. I’m sure there are plenty of prescribers who share information about benzo long-term use, tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal with their patients. And I’m just as sure there are many who don’t. That’s a problem.

That’ll Do It

There’s no way I could include every relevant tidbit of information about long-term benzodiazepine use. So, if you want to be fully informed, chat with your doc and counselor. Online research will help as well.

If you’re pondering how to treat your anxiety, benzodiazepines may seem like an easy – even logical – choice. However, beyond tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal is the potential for serious harm from long-term use.

Yep, hold on there, partner.

The Chipur benzodiazepines articles…

Benzodiazepines: The Need-to-Know Series

Benzodiazepines: The Need-to-Know Series | Dependence

Benzodiazepines: The Need-to-Know Series | Withdrawal

What to Do for Anxiety? “Benzodiazepines, of course.” Hold on There, Partner!

Benzodiazepines: The Gifts That Keep on Giving

Benzodiazepines: Time to Say Goodbye?

Would you like to read yet more Chipur articles? All you have to do is take a peek at the titles.

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