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Volume 37, issue 1

Review article

Can the use of benzodiazepines increase the risk of dementia?

Jan Jaracz1, Natalia A. Rakowska1
1. Department of Adult Psychiatry, Poznan University of Medical Sciences
Farmakoterapia w Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2021, 37 (1), 53–62
Date of publication: 30-03-2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.33450/fpn.2021.01.001
Keywords: dementia, benzodiazepines, prodromal symptoms

Abstract

Objective. This study aims to provide up-to-date data on the possible relationship between the use of benzodiazepines and the subsequent occurrence of dementia.

Literature review. Benzodiazepines (BDA) have been used in medicine for over half a century. Initially, they were considered very safe, especially when compared to older generation drugs. Over time, more and more information about possible side effects became available and the problem of abuse and addiction was growing. One of the side effects of BDA is possible deterioration of cognitive functions, particularly relevant in elderly population. In recent years, numerous studies have been published, the results of which indicate the possible impact of using this group of drugs on the risk of developing dementia. The possibility of reverse causality, i.e. when BDA is included in the prodromal phase of dementia to alleviate such symptoms as anxiety or insomnia, is also discussed.

Conclusions. Although numerous studies confirm a higher incidence of dementia in BDA users, this relationship has not been clearly confirmed due to methodological problems and possible influence of many additional factors.

Address for correspondence:
Jan Jaracz
Poznan University of Medical Sciences
Department of Adult Psychiatry
27/33 Szpitalna Str., 60-572, Poznań, Poland
email: jjjaracz@gmail.com