Benzodiazepine Use Linked to Dementia and Memory Loss


A recent review of the research found that benzodiazepine use may have long-term effects on memory and increase the risk for dementia. The study, published in CNS Drugs, calls for greater awareness of these potential risks among prescribers and more research on the mechanisms involved.



Pariente, A., de Gage, S. B., Moore, N., & Bégaud, B. (2015). The Benzodiazepine–Dementia Disorders Link: Current State of Knowledge. CNS drugs, 1-7. (Abstract)

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Justin Karter
MIA Research News Editor: Justin M. Karter is the lead research news editor for Mad in America. He completed his doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He also holds graduate degrees in both Journalism and Community Psychology from Point Park University. He brings a particular interest in examining and decoding cultural narratives of mental health and reimagining the institutions built on these assumptions.


  1. The study I have heard of linking benzos with dementia was done on older people who had recently taken and/or discontinued the drug. They could potentially be having a protracted withdrawal/dealing with a CNS injury from the drug as opposed to having an actual disease process. Since doctors don’t yet acknowledge the existence of this drugs damage, they will reach for other medically accepted labels like “dementia”, “bipolar”, “anxiety disorder” to explain the drugs effects. Before we can have good research, there needs to be an admittance that these drugs can damage GABA receptors and cause symptoms which look like pathological states but are actually an injury.

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    • “Before we can have good research, there needs to be an admittance that these drugs can damage GABA receptors and cause symptoms which look like pathological states but are actually an injury.”

      This is true of all psychiatric drugs regarding just about everything. Although I barely consider benzodiazapines to be “psychiatric” drugs, the fact that neuroleptic “antipsychotic” drugs cause brain shrinkage (and what are probably a myriad of other brain damages too) is especially concerning when patients who take these drugs are regularly getting worse and becoming disabled over time while doctors continue blaming it on their “underlying illness”

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    • I know millions, including over a million children, have been misdiagnosed as “bipolar” due to the adverse effects of the antidepressants and stimulants. But I hadn’t really thought of how many benzo sufferers might also have been misdiagnosed as “bipolar.”

      And what’s very dangerous about such a misdiagnosis is that combining the benzos with the antipsychotics and antidepressants, is known to result in anticholinergic toxidrome, a toxic mix of drugs which is known to make the patient “mad as a hatter.”

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  2. My 10 year prescribed benzodiazepine dependent period from 1976 to 1986 has left me with a 10 year complete memory gap. No memories whatsoever.

    2 subsequent MRI brain scans show that I have brain atrophy (shrinkage), fluid on the brain and narrowing of ventricles. I also suffer with neuropathic pain in right leg, underactive thyroid, B12 deficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome and daily chronic headaches, all this and I have been off benzodiazepines for 30 years come the 19th of March 2016.

    I am still campaigning for world government action on these drugs.

    The inaugural ‘World Benzo Day ‘ will be on the 11th of July 2016 and this date was picked to honour the tremendous work done on this issue by Professor C.Heather Ashton, as it is also her birthday.

    A Press Release is due this month on ‘ World Benzo Day ‘.

    Barry Haslam. Ex Chair, of Oldham Tranx. UK.

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