Dr. Tom Colletti, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review the long term use of benzodiazepines in the treatment of anxiety.
Method: A PubMed literature search was conducted with search terms benzodiazepine, long term use and anxiety. Free full text articles option was selected and they were to be published between 2015 to present. The four pertinent articles that were retrieved and served as the basis for this clinical review.
Results: Literature shows extensive alternative options with lower side effect profiles. Special populations, like children and pregnant women, are seen to use benzodiazepines as a short course but long term use is not recommended. Withdrawal is a large hindrance in the use of benzodiazepines. Overall, it is not recommended to use benzodiazepines as long term treatment for anxiety disorders.
Conclusion: Benzodiazepines are a widely used medication in the treatment of anxiety with many potential benefits. When used in the long term setting there are several problematic features that lead to poor health outcomes and it is not recommended as long term treatment. The use of long term benzodiazepines shows impairment in neurocognitive activities, respiratory function and mental health outcomes. There is still research that needs to be done in order to determine the extent of these outcomes and what age groups are most affected. Further research can include practice adjustments in the prescription of benzodiazepines.
Ighani K. The Long Term Use of Benzodiazepines and the Treatment of Anxiety. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2021; 3(1).
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