Benzodiazepines could increase suicide risk in COPD and PTSD patientsEuropean Pharmaceutical Review
October 12, 2018
“More research will be needed to better understand this link with suicide, but in the meantime we would advise that clinicians reconsider prescribing benzodiazepines to patients who already are at high risk for self-harm.” Dr Donovan
Researchers have found that long-term use of benzodiazepine medications in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could lead to an increased risk of suicide.
Dr Lucas M. Donovan and his team studied 44,555 veterans who received medical care between 2010-2012. Of these individuals, 23.6 percent received benzodiazepines long term (90 days or longer).
Benzodiazepines are anxiety-reducing, hypnotic, anticonvulsant and sedative drugs that are usually prescribed for COPD and PTSD. Symptoms including shortness of breath, anxiety, insomnia can be alleviated with the drug. The use of benzodiazepines is controversial because of the adverse side effects associated with the drug, which includes an increased risk of COPD exacerbations and self-injury.
They found that long-term use of benzodiazepines in COPD patients who also had PTSD more than doubled their risk of suicide. These patients also had higher rates of psychiatric admissions.
However, the researchers did not find that long-term use of benzodiazepines in this patient group increased their risk of death from all causes or respiratory events, as previous studies have suggested.
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