Use of medication for insomnia or anxiety increases mortality risk by 36 percent

Sep 09, 2010

Taking medications to treat insomnia and anxiety increases mortality risk by 36%, according to a study conducted by Genevičve Belleville, a professor at Universite Laval's School of Psychology. The details of this study are published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Dr. Belleville arrived at these results through analysis of 12 years of data on over 14,000 Canadians in Statistics Canada's National Population Health Survey. The data includes information on the social demographics, lifestyle, and health of Canadians age 18 to 102, surveyed every two years between 1994 and 2007.

During this period, respondents who reported having used medication to treat insomnia or anxiety at least once in the month preceding the survey had a mortality rate of 15.7%. Respondents who reported not having used such medications had a rate of 10.5%. After controlling for personal factors that might affect , notably alcohol and tobacco consumption, physical health, physical activity level, and the presence or absence of depressive symptoms among participants, Dr. Belleville established that the consumption of sleeping pills or anxiety-relieving medications was associated with a 36% increase in the risk of death.

A number of hypotheses have been put forward to explain the link between use of these medications and increased mortality. Sleeping pills and anxiolytics affect reaction time, alertness, and coordination and are thus conducive to falls and other accidents. They may also have an inhibiting effect on the respiratory system, which could aggravate certain breathing problems during sleep. These medications are also central nervous system inhibitors that may affect judgment and thus increase the risk of suicide.

"These medications aren't candy, and taking them is far from harmless," commented Dr. Belleville. "Given that cognitive behavioral therapies have shown good results in treating and anxiety, doctors should systematically discuss such therapies with their patients as an option. Combining a pharmacological approach in the short term with psychological treatment is a promising strategy for reducing and promoting sleep."

Explore further: Giving emotions to virtual characters

Related Stories

Older Australians overprescribed antidepressants

May 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Older Australians are being overprescribed medications for depression, according to a study by researchers published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

Recommended for you

Giving emotions to virtual characters

16 hours ago

Researchers at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) were able to simulate human facial expressions in virtual characters and use them in order to create better environments within a virtual ...

Emotion-tracking software aims for "mood-aware" internet

16 hours ago

Emotions can be powerful for individuals. But they're also powerful tools for content creators, such as advertisers, marketers, and filmmakers. By tracking people's negative or positive feelings toward ads—via ...

The emotional appeal of stand-up comedy

17 hours ago

Comics taking to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe this week should take note: how much of a hit they are with their audiences won't be down to just their jokes. As Dr Tim Miles from the University of Surrey has discovered, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tepp
not rated yet Sep 09, 2010
I guess people with insomnia should stick to good ol' weed
Skeptic_Heretic
Sep 09, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.