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Common side effects of benzodiazepines include: According to the FDA, benzodiazepines can worsen cases of pre‐existing depression, and more recent studies suggest that they may potentially lead to treatment-resistant depression.Furthermore, benzodiazepines can cause emotional blunting or numbness and increase suicidal thoughts and feelings.Long-term benzodiazepine use also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Because they’re physically addicting and on their own and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or former substance abuse problem should use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the developing baby, with withdrawal following birth. Therefore, pregnant women need to have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of these medications with their prescribing doctor.If medication is necessary, the goal is the smallest effective dose.Even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that looks like dementia.
Older adults are more sensitive to the sedating effects of benzodiazepines.If you have severe anxiety that’s interfering with your ability to function, medication may be helpful—especially as a short-term treatment.However, many people use anti-anxiety medication when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies would work just as well or better, minus the drawbacks.Anxiety medications can ease symptoms, but they're not right for everyone and they're not the only answer.It's up to you to evaluate your options and decide what's best for you.