Long-term use of these anxiety drugs fuels dementia

Many of us suffer from an unseen condition that destroys the quality of our life on a daily basis.

It causes our heart to race, our bodies to become sweaty, our hands and bodies to shake and our lungs to feel tight.

And while it feels like a heart attack, it’s not.

It’s anxiety.

It’s a condition that affects approximately 40 million adults in the U.S., sending many of us to our doctors’ offices in search of relief that would finally let us feel “normal.”

Yet, according to research out of Australia, that relief may come at a price.

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The truth behind benzos and cognitive decline

One of the most common tools in a doctor’s toolbox to help patients with anxiety is a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos for short.

And it’s a class of drugs that’s long been linked to a risk of cognitive decline later in life.

Yet, while everyone knew the link was there, no one understood just why (or if it was really due to the drugs themselves or another risk factor).

Well, that issue has now been settled thanks to researchers from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO) who discovered that the drugs can have a dangerous impact on the brain’s microglial cells.

“These are small and highly mobile cells that are part of the non-neuronal matrix in which nerve cells are embedded,” explained Richard Banati, a professor at ANTSO. “This matrix makes up a substantial part of the brain and is actually directly influencing the functioning of neural networks.”

And when the team tested diazepam, a common benzo, to see how it affects the brain in action, they discovered it goes directly to those microglia, changing their normal activity, as well as the function they have in maintaining nerve cell connections in the brain.

In essence, they say it’s like “unplugging” the connections.

First, some parts of the machine stop working. Then as more wires become damaged, eventually the entire machine breaks down.

Pretty scary when you realize that machine is your brain, right?

“This observation is important because long-term use of anti-anxiety medication is thought to contribute to an acceleration of dementia and how that might occur was not known,” said Banati.

Now we know.

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Safer anxiety relief

So what can you do if you live with anxiety but don’t want to risk the future of your brain to feel better now?

Start with getting a physical…

Research in the last few years discovered a connection between anxiety and thyroid inflammation. A group of anxiety sufferers all had thyroid levels that were within the normal range but on the high end of that range.

However, their thyroids showed signs of inflammation, and they tested positive for antibodies that act against the thyroid. Inflammation and antibodies often indicate some type of autoimmune reaction.

And luckily, there’s anxiety help available beyond the prescription bottle…

Finally, it’s important to remember that in all things that have to do with your health, including anxiety, sitting has become the new smoking…

Research has shown that spending too much time in sedentary behaviors leads to an increased risk of anxiety while conscious movement has been shown to calm it.

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Sources:

Research Sheds Light on Mechanism by Which Long-Term Anti-Anxiety Drug Use Affects the Brain — Neuroscience

Anti-anxiety drugs can interfere with a person’s neurons and increase their risk of cognitive decline later in life, study finds – DailyMail.com

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Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.