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Mortality Risk Greater for Those Taking Medication for Anxiety or Insomnia


If you take medication for anxiety or problems sleeping, you may be increasing your mortality risk by 36%. This is according to a study published recently in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

The research, led by Dr. Genevieve Belleville of Universite Laval’s School of Psychology, involved the analysis of survey data for 14,000 Canadian residents between the ages of 18 and 102. The data spans 12 years and includes information pertaining to health, social demographics, and lifestyle obtained from surveys conducted every two years.

The mortality rate of those who indicated they used medication for anxiety or insomnia at least one time within the month prior to the survey was 15.7%. Those who didn’t report that had a much lower rate at 10.5%. When other risk factors such as physical health, use of alcohol or tobacco, depression, and degree of physical activity were factored out, the mortality risk of those who used drugs for anxiety or sleep was 36%, per Dr. Belleville’s calculations.

The increased risk may be due to things such as the effects of anxiolytic medications on coordination, mental alertness, and reaction time – each of which could contribute to a person falling or having other types of accidents. These medications may also exacerbate respiratory problems while the person sleeps, and also impair judgment – leading to greater suicide risk.

While more research needs to be done to fully understand the connection, it is important to remember that these medications should be used with caution and taken only as prescribed, if at all. Psychotherapy can be very effective in treating anxiety and many sleep issues.


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