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HI, I am a 45 yr old women who has a generalised anxiety disorder and tinnitus. I have been extremely worried about the recent link between alzheimers and sleepingpills/diazepam. I started taking diazepam at a low dose about 12 yrs ago, mostly for sleeping, and about 5 yrs ago, as I realised I only needed someithing to regulate sleep, take zopiclone 10mg instead about once a week, or on holidays, or at times of crises. Regulating my sleep ensures my GAD stays at bay. and only very occasionally use diazepam.

I have had a massive surge in anxiety since the link between alzheimers and drugs was announced, and am worried;

1. about my past use of drugs
2. my ongoing occasional use of zopiclone

Category: Psychiatrist

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Thanks for using for posting your query.
I have gone through your question in detail and I can understand what you are going through.
I understand that being a person of anxiety disorder, such facts can induce a lot of anxiety in you. There were reports that alzheimers disease is very much associated with the benzodiazepines especially diazepam and more so if its taken more than 5 years. But the author had mentioned a caution stating that although these is an association, it still cannot be stated that the benzos can cause alzheimers' disease. There are many other compounding factors.
Getting treated for anxiety was essential and without it the life would have been a hell. So the usage of benzos was accpetable. Even now, benzos are still used in the treatment of anxiety disorder as the research evidence is still weak, and the the life of an anxiety disorder person is bad without benzos.
As of now you are only taking zopiclone and that too not daily. So that way the risk is very very minimal. So nothing much needs to be done. Just keep on going with your treatment. Follow steps of good sleep hygiene:
1) Have some aerobic workouts during day preferably in the morning.
2) Have a light dinner.
3) Completely avoid coffee/tea/alcohol/energy drinks/coke/smoking.
4) Have a warm water bath before going to sleep.
5) Dont try very hard to go to sleep. If you are not sleepy then sit on a couch or sofa and do some reading and go to the bed only when you are sleepy.
6) Avoid watching tv or working on laptop/computer or bright screens at night.
7) Keep the lighting of your bedroom dim and make your bed every morning after you wake up so that you get a cozy bed to sleep at night.
8) Use your bedroom only for sleeping and resting and do not do any other work there.
9) Avoid afternoon nap for any reason.
If still you dont get sleep, then you may still use your zopiclone.
Also if you are averse to taking any kind of benzos for anxiety disorder then there is an option of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This therapy is taken by either a psychologist or a psychiatrist in which the therapist identifies impaired cognitions (Thoughts) and try to correct them. They are 15-20 min weekly session and there should be around 8-10 sessions to help you with your illness.
Hope this helps,
If you have any further query, do let me know.
Kind regards,
Dr. Srikanth Reddy

Patient replied :

Thank you very much for your reply. I am fuctioning very well with the disorder and tinnitus, but have been mindful to keep sleepmedication to a minimum for some time - about once per week. Is it will ok to take the very occasional diazepam 5mg say once a month for anxiety and maybe a sleeping tablet 10mg zopiclone once a week?
I also attended CBT followign the death of my parents and it has worked very well, hence my reduced need for diazepam

Yes it is safe to use an occasional diazepam 5mg (say ones a month) and occasional zopiclone (10mg ones a week). Do continue your CBT.
Kind regards

Dr. Srikanth Reddy
Category: Sexologist
Doctor of Medicine (MD), Psychiatry Residency Program,2001 – 2012
M.B.B.S,Mahatma Gandhi Institute Of Medical Sciences, Sevagram

Certificate Course in sex Therapy and Counselling, Sexology and Counselling, A
Sexology,Medikon Sexual Sciences, Mumbai

Training in Advanced Neurology at a leading corporate hospital (CARE hospital) in Hyderabad

Child Psychiatry Training in National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Bangalore

Sex Therapy and Counsellingat MEDIKON Sexual Sciences, Mumbai.
Dr. Srikanth Reddy and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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