Why Drugs Aren't Always The Best Solution For Anxiety & Insomnia

I'm all about helping you age-proof your body and mind — sharing the secrets to a long life that's filled with purpose and joy, no matter what challenges life throws your way.

But I realize that those challenges can get pretty overwhelming. I see patients all the time who struggle with stressors most Americans didn't even think about a few years ago. Stuff like information overload, being "on" 24/7, and chronic financial insecurity. Add those woes to eternal human challenges like caring for loved ones, finding meaning, and dealing with change and loss, and it's no wonder we're being diagnosed with anxiety and depression in record numbers.

Way too many of us are chronically worried, and we aren't sleeping well either. As a result, many people turn to tranquilizers. Drugs like Valium and Xanax are some of the most prescribed in the U.S.

Unfortunately, new research is raising concerns that this class of drugs, known as benzodiazepines, may be bad for our brains. An important study published in The BMJ has found that elderly adults who took these drugs for longer than three months were 51% more likely than those who didn't to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Does this prove that benzodiazepines cause Alzheimer's?


The folks in this study had been taking tranquilizers for at least five years before receiving an Alzheimer's diagnosis. So it could be that anxiety, insomnia, or depression were early symptoms of the disease and that's why these individuals were more likely to be on the drugs.

But the researchers found the evidence of a direct link between benzodiazepines and Alzheimer's compelling enough to state that long-term use should be seen as a concern to public health.

And this issue is just the latest addition to a host of concerns about tranquilizers, including the prevalence of addiction and abuse.

The bottom line is that use of these drugs should be brief and reserved as a last resort for extreme cases.

When it comes to being age-proof and living your best, turn away from tranquilizers. If you're on them, don't ditch them suddenly, but work with your doctor to wean yourself off. Then turn toward making lasting improvements to your body and mind.

That means:

  • Eating nutritious, whole foods
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Practicing daily stress reduction
  • Cultivating supportive friendships and social connections
  • When necessary, seeking the help of a qualified therapist or trusted mentor

Remember, every aspect of your life affects your well-being, and every part of your body impacts your emotional and mental state. It's understandable to long for a magic pill that can easily cure your ills. But the truth is that your body is a system, and it rarely responds well to the "just pop a pill and keep going" approach.

If you're continually anxious or unable to sleep, your body and your life are trying to tell you something. Pay attention.

When you start responding to your own physical and emotional challenges with the consideration and care you'd give a dear friend in distress, your life will improve beyond your wildest dreams!

Ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.

Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D.

Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D., is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet, Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Cookbook, and The 10-Day Belly Slimdown. She also is the host of the highly successful PBS special, 21 Days to a Slimmer, Younger You and 10-Day Belly Slimdown with Dr. Kellyann.A weight-loss and natural anti-aging expert, Dr. Petrucci is a concierge doctor for celebrities in New York City and Los Angeles. She is a board-certified naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition consultant. Dr. Petrucci did postgraduate work in Europe, studying naturopathic medicine in England and Switzerland. She is one of the few practitioners in the United States certified in biological medicine by the esteemed Dr. Thomas Rau of the Paracelsus Klinik Lustmuhle in Switzerland.Dr. Petrucci is a weekly contributor on Dr. Oz and appears regularly on Good Morning America and other national news programs. She has authored six best-selling books for John Wiley & Sons. In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Woman’s World, Life & Style, Closer, Harper’s Bazaar, Daily Mail, Cooking Light, Redbook, and more. As the driving force behind the popular website drkellyann.com. Currently, Dr. Petrucci is focusing much of her attention on developing innovative beauty- and food-based products.
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Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D.

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