Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 12
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825263

The influence of somatic conditions on benzodiazepine long-term use

C Barnas 1
  • 1University Clinics Vienna, Dept. of Psychiatry, Währinger Gürtel 18–20, 1090 Vienna, Austria

The continuous use of benzodiazepines over periods of months and years is a frequently observed phenomenon, even if this pattern of use is against all common recommandations for the prescription of benzodiazepines. Characteristics of benzodiazepine long-term users are female gender, older age, and the lack of a partner or significant others. Frequently, an increased level of anxiety and a tendency towards depressive states can be found. Benzodiazepine long-term user rarely try to terminate drug intake. If they do so, they hardly succed, even though the daily dose is usually low.

Somatic conditions are rarely investigated in epidemiologic studies on benzodiazepin use. Only a few investigations describe a possible influence of somatic deseases on benzodiazepin long-term use. If somatic conditions are observed, a clear connection can be demonstrated: patients with benzodiazepine long-term use complain significantly more health problems than persons without tranquilizer intake. Even though this self- assessment does not correspond to the assessment of their treating physicians, patients with benzodiazepine long-term use have a higher mortality rate than age matched individuals without tranquilizer use.