The science of psychiatric medication is still unsettled.
A recent study has shown that anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills are potentially very dangerous.
The New York Times reports:
A large study has linked several common anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills to an increased risk of death, although it’s not certain the drugs were the cause.
For more than seven years, researchers followed 34,727 people who filled prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax, or sleep aids like Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta, comparing them with 69,418 controls who did not.
After adjusting for a wide variety of factors, the researchers found that people who took the drugs had more than double the risk of death. The study appears online in BMJ.
It would be churlish to point out that the risk of death, for any human being is already 100%, and thus, that author is talking about the risk of premature death. Clearly, these drugs are dangerous and are likely to shorten your lifespan.
Of course, the researchers tried to control for all other possible causes of premature death:
The researchers tried to account for the use of other prescribed drugs, age, smoking, alcohol use, socioeconomic status, and other health and behavioral characteristics. Most important, the investigators also controlled for sleep disorders, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric illnesses, all of which are risk factors for mortality.
The Times continues:
The lead author, Dr. Scott Weich, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Warwick, said that while he and his colleagues were careful to account for as many potential risks as possible, they were not able to control for the severity of the illnesses suffered by the study participants.
Still, he said, the research “adds to an accumulating body of evidence that these drugs are dangerous.” He added: “I prescribe these drugs, and they are difficult to come off. The less time you spend on them the better.”
Some of these drugs are addictive. All of them appear to be dangerous. Many of them have been in use for a very long time.
We often hear about the wonders that psychiatric medication can offer. We rarely hear about the risks.
As the brave new world of psychopharmacology dawns we should be aware that we do not know very much about the potential dangers from these miracle drugs.