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Q:  Long-term Effects of Benzodiazepines & Dementia

Hello, I have been diagnosed bipolar for 15 years. I am now 30 yrs old.  For the past decade I have been taking 2mg of lorazapam. As a Director of Social Services at a high-scale nursing home I have seen the long-term effects of Benzo-Use.  Am I in jeorpardy of having any long term side effects like: dimentia, or anything else with 2 mg of lorazapam.  (I really like the drug).


Dear Jim -- 
With apologies for a brief answer (pretty crunched today), here are some thoughts: 

I'm not aware of any literature which suggests benzodiazepines can cause dementia, but from your experience I'm sure you're aware of the several ways they can make it worse.  And they can effectively "cause" it when the person is heading toward dementia, hasn't gotten there yet, but is so close that the benzo' just tips them over the edge.  But as far as contributing to the processes which cause dementia in the first place, such as the plaque development in Alzheimers or the vessel narrowing in "multi-infarct" dementia, I'm not aware of any worries there.  If you know of anything, I'd appreciate it if you'd send it along.  !

So, just stay 30 years old and you'll be all right. 

Dr. Phelps

Published April 2005


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