Scientists warn bipolar patients against prolonged use of benzodiazepines/Z-drugs

Scientists warn bipolar patients against prolonged use of benzodiazepines/Z-drugs

People suffering from bipolar disorder, a complex mental problem, tend to take drugs to suppress their elevated mood levels or control their feelings of depression. Now, a recent study has suggested that patients of bipolar disorder taking benzodiazepines and/or Z-drugs, especially alprazolam and clonazepam, are at an increased risk of prolonged use of such drugs.

For the study published recently in the journal Bipolar Disorders, the researchers obtained details of about 22,000 adult patients suffering from bipolar disorder or mania, but had no history of using benzodiazepines or Z-drugs during the last one year. The data was obtained from Swedish national registers. Of these patients, roughly 28.8 percent was treated with therapeutic interventions and benzodiazepine/Z-drugs. They were, then, followed for a year to find the number of patients who had abused drugs for a period exceeding six months.

The researchers examined details of both the patients and prescriptions to assess the possible predictors of long-term use of the drugs. Nearly one in five patients who had taken the drugs as a part of the treatment process became prolonged users of those substances. The study indicated the use of alprazolam and clonazepam as the strongest predictors for long-term drug use. In addition, the patients who had been advised more than two benzodiazepines and/or Z-drugs were at a greater likelihood of being long-term users of the drugs. Also, those aged over 60 years were more likely to continue using these drugs for a longer period compared to patients aged below 30 years.

Benzodiazepine should be used with caution for treating mental illnesses

Though there are grievous risks related to continued benzodiazepine/Z-drug use, it is quite probable that the patients who had been administered these drugs may have benefitted over the treatment period. The authors of the study, however, could not pinpoint if long-term users were dependent on these drugs to alleviate their fluctuating mood levels or had abused them for their addictive characteristics. Lack of data regarding the benzodiazepine/Z-drug dosages prescribed to the patients disabled the researchers from determining if prolonged drug use had continued for prescription purposes or for fueling addictive habits.

The researchers have warned that though the use of such drugs provide necessary relief to patients manifesting bipolar problems, they should be used with caution for treating anxiety or other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder. Besides, multiple prescriptions of benzodiazepine or Z-drug must be avoided to lower use of the same among patients.

Treating bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness and affects roughly 2.6 percent of the American population, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Out of these, nearly 83 percent have been detected with severe form of the disorder. Also, the mental condition affects both men and women alike, and is generally diagnosed in early adulthood. Significantly, severity of bipolar disorder may vary from person to person. People with the condition must seek professional help from the finest treatment facilities for bipolar disorder.

There is a tendency of the symptoms of this disease to worsen, if not treated timely. Sovereign Health’s bipolar rehab centers in California treat their patients holistically to make them lead a normal life again. Patients at our world-class bipolar treatment centers in California are either advised medications or therapeutic measures or a combination of both for prolonged relief. For more information about our depression treatment centers in California, get in touch with our 24/7 helpline number at 866-973-7164 or chat with our online counselor.

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