Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs used in the treatment of insomnia, panic disorders, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Common side effects of benzodiazepines, like drowsiness, confusion, and muscle weakness are known, but their effect on all-cause mortality is not well studied. This study aims to investigate the risk of all-cause mortality associated with taking benzodiazepines.

This retrospective cohort study included a total of 252,988 participants, including benzodiazepine initiators and benzodiazepine non-initiators. The researchers followed up the participants for 90-180 days. The primary outcome of the study was all-cause mortality.

During a follow-up of six months, 9,752 deaths occurred, 5,061 among benzodiazepine initiators (9.3 deaths per 1,000 person-years), and 4,691 among non-initiators (9.4 deaths per 1,000 person-years). Further analysis suggested that the start of benzodiazepine treatment was associated with a 4% increase in mortality risk in patients initiating short-acting agents. In a secondary analysis comparing high dimensional propensity score on the basis of more than 300 co-varieties indicated that starting treatment with benzodiazepine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants was associated with a 9% increased mortality risk.

The research concluded that the initiation of benzodiazepine treatment was associated with a minor increase in the risk of all-cause mortality.

Ref: https://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j2941