Author Topic: Study, 2022: Cognitive Functioning in Long-Term Benzodiazepine Users  (Read 375 times)


The full title of this Dutch study is "Cognitive Functioning in Long-Term Benzodiazepine Users".


Background: Benzodiazepines are widely used in the treatment of anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances, but negative cognitive side effects have been reported after long-term use. Studies on the cognitive effects of long-term benzodiazepine use to date have typically included small samples and limited cognitive assessments.

Objectives: This study examined cognitive performance on four cognitive domains in long-term benzodiazepine users, compared to normative data. Furthermore, it was examined whether sex, age, benzodiazepine dose, and state and trait anxiety moderated cognitive functioning in long-term benzodiazepine users.

Methods: Neuropsychological tests targeting different cognitive domains were administered to 92 patients with long-term benzodiazepine use who were accepted for enrolment into a benzodiazepine discontinuation programme in an academic hospital. Test scores were compared to a large normative data sample.

Results: Of the long-term benzodiazepine users, 20.7% could be classified as cognitively impaired across all domains, with the largest effects found in the domains processing speed and sustained attention, and an overall worse performance in women, an effect which appears to be moderated by state anxiety. No effects of age or benzodiazepine dose were found.

Conclusions: These results extend those of earlier studies on benzodiazepine effects on specific cognitive domains. This study implies an overall detrimental cognitive effect in long-term benzodiazepine users rather than specific effects. Therefore, long-term benzodiazepine use should be avoided, and once present, tailored interventions aimed at tapering benzodiazepines are warranted.

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