What are some risks of anti-anxiety medications?

A study suggests that anti-anxiety medications are having a grave role in overdose deaths. The number of Americans filling prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs -- in the class of medications called benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax -- increased 67 percent between 1996 and 2013, the study found. However, the rate of overdose deaths that involved these drugs during this period of time increased more than four times as much.

This content originally appeared online at Baptist Health South Florida.

Sudeepta Varma, MD
Anti-anxiety medications can be very effective if closely monitored by a doctor for short doses; but if abused or taken too long, there can be long-term risks. Watch psychiatrist Sue Varma, MD, explain these risks, especially becoming dependent.
Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Anti-anxiety drugs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs, with over 280 million prescriptions written annually. It has been shown that many of these are overprescribed. In fact, research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed about 25% of people who are given these dangerous medications do not have a proper diagnosis.

Other studies show that people who use anti-anxiety medication have a 36% increased mortality risk. That means persons using these drugs are almost 40% more likely to die than people who do not use them. While anti-anxiety medications can be lifesaving in urgent situations, in most cases, there are natural alternatives that can help while a person starts to work on the underlying causes of anxiety reactions in the body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.