STUDY: Anti-anxiety drugs increase risk of dementia later in life

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  • Researchers have discovered the reason why anti-anxiety medications put users at risk of dementia down the line
  • The medications can cause damage to the brain’s microglial cells – which in turn damage connects between parts of the brain
  • The research team hopes their findings will open the door for a development of a new class of anxiety medication that doesn’t cause brain damage
  • The number of Americans using anxiety medications surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their use especially jumped among teens 

Using anti-anxiety drugs may put someone at significant risk of developing cognitive decline later in life and scientists may have finally discovered why.

Researchers from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO) found that the drugs may impact the brain’s microglial cells, which in turn interfere with the dendritic spines – a key part of the brain’s neurons.

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In essence, the drugs slowly cause impact to the part of the brain that electrifies and activates cells.

Millions of Americans use these drugs, and the link between them and an increased risk of cognitive decline later in life has long been known. Researchers are hopeful that their finding will open the door to a new class of drugs that have a lesser long-term impact on brain health.

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