(Psych) Drug induced dementia — higher rates of Alzheimer’s too

This is not the first time psych drugs have been linked to dementia, but it’s certainly not something we hear about often enough. With an aging generation of people who’ve been on psych meds for their entire adult lives it’s an issue that needs to be faced. It’s yet another serious adverse effect that psychiatric drugs can cause. In this current NBC piece they are speaking only about benzodiazepines. All psych drugs have been associated with various sorts of mental decline, however.

From NBC news:

People who use anxiety drugs such as Valium and Xanax long-term may be raising their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, French and Canadian researchers report. They found that elderly people who used drugs called benzodiazepines for three months or longer had a 43 percent to 51 percent higher risk of later developing Alzheimer’s. It’s not clear whether the drugs are causing the Alzheimer’s directly, or if people perhaps use the drugs to treat other symptoms that may be early signs of Alzheimer’s, such as depression or insomnia. But the researchers tried to factor this in as much as possible and still found a higher risk of Alzheimer’s in those who took the drugs long-term. (read more here)

See also from Medical News Today: Increased Alzheimer’s risk linked to long-term benzodiazepine use

I thought I’d take this opportunity to again post about the book by the name Drug-Induced Dementia: a perfect crime By Grace Jackson.

A book review by Delores Jankovich

(first published in ICSPP Bulletin 2009 – Number 3 and on Beyond Meds at that time as well)

by Grace Jackson. Below is a description I got permission from the author to reprint:
drugUnder the influence of declining birth rates, expanding longevity, and changing population structures around the world, the global prevalence of senile dementia is expected to increase more than four-fold within the next forty years.    Within the United States alone, the number of affected individuals over the age of 65 is expected to rise exponentially from 8 million cases (2% of the entire population in the year 2000), to 18 million retirees (roughly 4.5% of the national census in the year 2040).   Although they are striking, these statistics quite likely underestimate the scope of the coming epidemic, as they fail to consider the impact of under-diagnosis, early-onset disease, and the potential for a changing incidence of illness in the context of increasingly toxic environments.

In the face of this imminent crisis, concerned observers have called for policies and practices which aim to prevent, limit, or reverse dementia. Drug-Induced Dementia: a perfect crime is a timely resource which reveals why and how medical treatments themselves – specifically, psychopharmaceuticals – are a substantial cause of brain degeneration and premature death.

A first-of-its-kind resource for patients and clinicians, the book integrates research findings from epidemiology (observational studies of patients in the “real world”), basic biology (animal experiments), and clinical science (neuroimaging and autopsy studies) in order to demonstrate the dementing and deadly effects of psychiatric drugs.

Highlighted by more than 100 neuroimages, slides of tissue specimens, and illustrations, the book uniquely describes:

  • the societal roots of the problem (target organ toxicity, regulatory incompetence, and performativity)
  • the subtypes and essential causes of dementia
  • the patterns, prevalence, and causes of dementia associated with antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, and stimulants

and

  • the actions and reforms which patients, providers, and policy makers might immediately pursue, in an effort to mitigate the causes and consequences of this iatrogenic tragedy.

Dr. Grace E. Jackson is a board-certified psychiatrist who graduated summa cum laude from California Lutheran University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Biology, as well as a Masters Degree in Public Administration. She earned her medical degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in 1996, then completed her internship and residency in the U.S. Navy.

Following her transition from military service to civilian status in the spring of 2002, Dr. Jackson has worked for the North Carolina Department of Corrections, the Veterans Administration, and as a clinician in private practice.

An internationally renowned lecturer, writer, and forensic consultant, she has submitted testimony to governmental agencies and authorities on behalf of patients’ rights, medical ethics, and health care reform, and she has served as an expert witness for the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (a non-profit organization based in Anchorage, Alaska).

Dr. Jackson’s first book, Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent underscored the urgent need for societies and health care systems to recognize the unnecessary harmfulness of psychiatric medications, and to protect the rights of those who desire drug-free care.  Expanding upon this same theme, Drug-Induced Dementia presents a methodical analysis of the scientific and epidemiological evidence which confirms psychopharmaceuticals as a cause of brain damage and premature death.  Hopefully, these publications will be used by laypersons, clinicians, lawyers, and policy makers to improve the quality and integrity of health care, and to safeguard the fundamental right of all patients to avoid unwarranted bodily harm – particularly, when that harm occurs in the form of misinformed, fraudulent, and/or coercive (involuntary) medical care.

For a review and excerpt on and from Grace Jackson’s first book, Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs click here.

Also by Grace Jackson on Beyond Meds

 

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters