3 Medications That Could Increase Your Risk for Dementia

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Pain Medication Between exercising 3-4 times per week, getting enough sleep, and consuming brain-protecting herbs like curcumin, you may think you’re maximizing your odds of dodging many devastating diseases. However, there could be another serious factor that is greatly increasing your risk: your over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Over the past few years, and particularly in recent months, more and more evidence is suggesting that certain types of medication may increase the risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

New research that has recently been published suggests that both common over-the-counter drugs and pharmaceutical drugs may be nullifying all your efforts to protect your brain from these types of debilitating diseases. If you are regularly taking any of the three types of drugs described below, you may want to strongly reconsider, and instead turn to some of the natural solutions to the common medications mentioned below.

1. Sleeping Aids/Medication

It may come as a surprise, but even basic over-the-counter sleeping aids may bring an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This type of medication, which includes such products as Nytol, is classified as an anticholinergic drug. In a newly published study out of the University of Washington, researchers tracked a large population of 3,434 seniors for eight years. Shockingly, among those who took the highest doses of anticholinergic drugs, the researchers identified a 54 percent greater risk of developing , and a 63 percent greater risk of Alzheimer’s. Although more research is needed, the results of this study are alarming, and demand a heightened level of concern.

In order to limit your risk of contracting these diseases due to anticholinergic drugs, strongly consider talking to your physician. You may be able to use different, safer types of medications to address your symptoms. But even better yet, try to find natural ways to get better sleep at night that work for you. These types of remedies are not only safe, but generally less expensive.

2. Allergy Medication

Another type of anticholinergic drug that is available over-the-counter, and widely used nationwide, is allergy medicine. This medication includes anti-allergy pills such as Benadryl and Piriton, which are most often purchased without a prescription and often used to combat hay fever. As this type of medication is also classified among anticholinergic drugs, the same precautions and risks accompany allergy medication as sleeping drugs. Fortunately, alternatives to medication exist for treating allergies too, and are worth trying before, or instead of, resorting to medication.

3. Anxiety and Medication

The long-term use of drugs used to treat anxiety and depression — many of which are classified as benzodiazepines — may lead to both physical and mental health problems. In 2012, a study out of a French university found that among adults over age 65, those who took benzodiazepines were 50 percent more likely to develop dementia over a fifteen-year period as compared to those who did not. In support of these findings, a study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2009 concluded that the long-term use of benzodiazepines was significantly associated with an increased risk of dementia, and other health problems.

Rather than expose yourself to such risks, consider natural alternatives to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Activities such as exercise, meditation, yoga, healthy eating, regular and a multitude of other healthy, natural habits can all help. In addition, consider using mood enhancing supplements as a safe, natural alternative means of treating anxiety or depression. Therapy, may also be a much better method of treatment than medication. Analyze your particular situation, and consider talking to your doctor for advice regarding natural alternative methods to eliminate anxiety, stress and depression.


Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.


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14 responses to “3 Medications That Could Increase Your Risk for Dementia”

  1. Yolanda Dolinger says:

    I’m taking Lorazapam at night, please tell me how I can get off of it, and what natural product to replace it with. I’m a believer of rx meds. being a danger to our bodies in time.

    • Segen Tekle says:

      Hi Yolanda,
      Before you discontinue any of your prescription medications, it’s highly suggested you consult with your physician.
      Replacing prescriptions with natural supplements is a discussion to have with your doctor to avoid any complications.

      Best wishes.

    • james says:

      if lorazapam helps your quality of life or if you have severe panic attacks and /or severe panic disorder or you have severe panic attacks brought on by any kind of hallucination, paranoia or any severe mental disorder there is absolutely NO natural alternative to the relief you get from benzos!!!!!! i have tried every natural alternative in the last 22 years and i GUARANTEE there are none. doctors will try to push you on none narcotic or natural alternatives but trust me they do absolutely nothing!!!!!!! i know the side effects are heavy and that’s even if they are true just look at what they said about aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrek gly in anti perspirant greatly increasing your chances of getting alzheimer’s but now they say it doesn’t. one day they’ll say something gives you this then the next day they’ll retract what they say even with extensive research and testing. THERE IS NO NATURAL ALTERNATIVE TO THE RELIEF YOU GET FROM BENZODIAZEPINES PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Andrew says:

        I agree the benzodiazepines are excellent drugs used to treat a number of conditions. They do a great job of controlling so many emotional issues. Whether or not they contribute to dementia is yet to completely proven. You are correct there is NO alternative to them and they have improved the lives of millions who need them

      • jdmac says:

        James please do not assume that just because nothing else works for you that it goes for everyone because it does not. each persons body reacts differently to different things. Ambien given to someone for sleep can cause some people to react badly and others take it for years without problems. Even OTC meds will react differently with different people. The only way to see what effects a med will have on you is to try it (that is if you are willing to risk the possible damage that may occur years later).

  2. Robert Nelson says:

    I take benzos for anxiety, allergy meds for chronic allergies, and Luneta for sleep (my CPAP mask is uncomfortable and I cannot sleep well with it on – I could die without the mask).

    There’s no getting around wanting to live a healthy life – but I have no quality of life without the meds.

  3. Tony says:

    What about Statin drugs? Not only will have kidney failure, you WILL suffer Dementia, and Alzheimer’s. I know and have physicians who will give statins to their patients.

    • Tony says:

      Tony on August 20, 2015 at 2:37 AM

      What about Statin drugs? Not only will you have kidney failure after prolong use of statins, you WILL suffer Dementia, and Alzheimer’s. I know physicians who WILL NOT give statins to their patients.

      sorry about the previous comment I suffer from migraines.

  4. james says:

    if you have severe panic attacks and /or a severe panic disorder there is no natural substitute on earth that will give you the same relief that xanax does for people with this problem GUARANTEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i have tried them all and they do NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so if you have super severe panic attacks or any other really bad psychiatric problems where you get severe panic attacks brought on by visual hallucinations or auditory hallucinations or just severe panic attacks in general then we are screwed!!!!!!! until they can come up with a natural alternative that gives the exact same relief that xanax does then our chances for dementia will increase because there are absolutely no natural alternatives to any benzo period!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jannett says:

      Gel magnesium purchased a health food stores applied to my forehead helps me to calm down when I have a panic attack. I can even carry a small bottle in my purse. I usually get panic attacks in traffic on the freeway & when I do not get enough rest. I use a couple drops in my had & rub across forehead & take deep breaths & within seconds, it begins to calm me down. I get a feeling of stress in top if my he’s when they begin.

  5. David says:

    I am new to this site. What is your merits in making these strong statements about the use of these` drugs..
    I have been on Lorazapam at since 1995!

  6. Susan says:

    People with severe anxiety issues, such as myself, have no choice until they come up with something else.

    • Andrew says:

      I totally agree in many cases these drugs are badly needed by millions of people. As of now, there are NO alternatives and until there are I feel those who greatly benefit from them should not stop

  7. David Brown says:

    I am a combat veteran and I have PTSD. What do I do about my depression and anxiety?