The relief that comes from anxiolytic drugs — like Xanax and Ativan — may be a temporary godsend, but they also contribute to early death, according to a recent study published in the medical journal BMJ.
Researchers followed nearly 35,000 people over age 16 who sought primary care in the United Kingdom and were prescribed drugs for anxiety, compared to a control group of approximately 70,000 people who did not receive prescriptions. Over the course of nearly eight years, those who were prescribed anxiolytic and hypnotic drugs as a treatment for anxiety were about 3.3 times more likely to die than those who weren't taking those drugs. Scary stuff!
To isolate the effects of anti-anxiety medicines, researchers controlled for confounding variables like other drug and alcohol use, smoking and socioeconomic factors, which suggests that the drugs themselves are the cause of the increased death risk.
What does this mean for you, the reader? While anxiety disorders themselves can lead to a variety of health risks, it's important to arm yourself with information about pharmaceutical treatments that may seem like miracles, but which carry their own set of side effects. As always, consult with a medical professional to find a treatment that works best for you and your body!