Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics. Video

Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics. Drugs that help you relax or sleep can help or hinder your life. Todays Video.

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Excess Medications – Poor Sleep linked to Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Sleepwalking

Sleep Walking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

New research is linking a lot of factors with cognitive decline.

Came across some interesting research recently about factors that may be increasing people’s risk of cognitive decline.  Both excessive medication and sleep problems appear to be risk factors for memory and thinking problems. We are a long way from any final answers when it comes to cognitive decline but some of this research is so convincing that I wanted to share it with you.

Poor sleep in the first few hours of the night, the time when memories and thoughts are processed and stored appears to be connected to eventual dementia. Low levels of oxygen also increased this risk.

There is a brief article on this research at PSYBLOG

One study does not make for final answers. This study was on only Japanese men and done in Hawaii. It made the connection between the poor sleep, low oxygen, and dementia but did not find a connection to the subsequent development of Alzheimer’s. The source for the research? Published in Neurology.

So is the answer to this poor sleep and cognitive decline to put more people, seniors in particular, on sleep medications? Not really.

Turns out that many seniors are being badly over medicated. The older you get the more likely it is that a doctor will prescribe sleep medications or anti-anxiety medications. The increase in anti-anxiety meds is troubling as research has told us that many seniors become less anxious not more so as they age.

The National Institute of mental Health published an article titled – Despite Risks, Benzodiazepine Use Highest in Older People.

This article reported on research into the prescribing of Benzodiazepines for older adults. The older you get the more likely it is that your doctor will prescribe a benzodiazepine for either poor sleep or anxiety. As you age you are more likely to be prescribed higher doses, for longer periods of time.

Most of these Benzodiazepines were prescribed by primary care doctors rather than by psychiatrists. Now here is the problem with that.

Taking lots of Benzodiazepines appears to increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The more you take the higher the risk. Take these meds for 180 days or more and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s DOUBLES, or so this one study tells us.

The text of this article as published is on PubMed.

There is another reason to be concerned about this high use of Benzodiazepines among seniors. That is the interaction between Alcohol and Benzodiazepines. We know from the experiences in the substance abuse treatment field that as we age the body’s ability to remove chemicals from your body declines. Any drug use by the elderly is risky. Just because the drugs are prescription ones does not eliminate the risks.

We also know that a large part of drug overdose deaths is the result of the interaction of alcohol and Benzodiazepines. People are tempted to use alcohol to sleep and when this is done to excess the result is poor sleep not improved sleep.

What is the solution?

Please do not suddenly stop taking prescribed medications based on this blog post or any other online source. If in doubt talk with your doctor. Do all you can to manage your health concerns, get that diabetes or heart condition under control. Lose weight, all those other health things you know you should do. No pill is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

Consider all those things that we loosely refer to as “sleep hygiene.” There are lifestyle changes that can help you sleep better. Also if emotional problems are impacting your sleep or causing you anxiety or depression, consider counseling or therapy for those mental health issues. You do not need to be “mentally ill” to benefit from counseling.

Science has not given us a cure for cognitive decline just yet, that may never happen. It is possible to do everything right and still develop some cognitive loss. But until we have a better answer to this problem do all you can to reduce the risks and get more mileage out of that brain of yours.

P. S. There have been a couple of broken links in these posts recently. Who knew that links could be so fragile? If you find a bad link please let me know and I will attempt to fix it.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Sleep Paralysis – What causes it? Is it related to PTSD or demons?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Sleep paralysis.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is Sleep Paralysis related to PTSD or the supernatural?

Imagine awakening suddenly in the middle of the night. Sitting on your chest is a demon; there are ghosts, dead people or spirits standing around your bed. You try to scream but nothing comes from your throat. You would run if you could but your legs won’t work. You are awake and paralyzed. Looking up at the demons you are helpless to do anything beyond saying a silent prayer inside your head. You are experiencing Sleep Paralysis.

Sleep Paralysis is one of those unusual problems. This condition is especially terrifying to someone who has the disorder.  If you have a belief in the supernatural you may dread falling asleep.

Sleep Paralysis has long been more the province of legends and the supernatural than included in the area of mental health. This experience has been connected to many other worldly phenomena. Similar experiences were described during the Salem witchcraft trials.

Today we have a scientific explanation that satisfies some, some of the time, but are we sure?

In Sleep Paralysis you can see, move your eyes and breathe, but the rest of your body is unable to move.  Some episodes of Sleep Paralysis last seconds. The average is six minutes. Occasional an episode of sleep paralysis will last longer than 6 minutes or on rare occasion’s hours.

Many people with Sleep Paralysis, up to 30% also have a history of Panic Attacks. It is more common among those with PTSD or anxiety disorders. Sleep Paralysis is also most common among those with minority status, especially African-Americans (Sharpless et al 2010.)

Other researchers have suggested that dissociation may be related to the old or “Lizard brains” freeze response to threat or danger. The same mechanism might explain the inability to move despite overwhelming terror found in Sleep Paralysis. Fear and anxiety may both cause and be the consequence of Sleep Paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is more common with overtired or sleep deprived individuals. It is also associated with taking Antidepressants, Benzodiazepines and some other medications. Ohayon et al., 1999 (Cited by Sharpless) also suggested a relationship between SSRI’s and Sleep Paralysis but Sharpless did not find a connection.

Sleep paralysis can occur when falling asleep or when awakening from sleep. Its main characteristic is not being able to move for an extended period of time. This condition occurs naturally during REM sleep but we don’t know we are becoming paralyzed when we are asleep.

The episodes of paralysis while awake are most often accompanied by very vivid hallucinations. The more vivid the hallucinations the more terrifying the Sleep Paralysis. Sometimes the person will experience hearing sounds. Even when experiencing the full symptoms of Sleep Paralysis, both the visions and the inability to move, many people describe the experience as a “dream” (Fukuda et al, 2000.)

If the hallucinations occur when falling asleep they are called Hypnogogic. Hallucinations that occur when awakening are called Hypnopompic.

Sleep paralysis may be connected with a physical disorder such as Narcolepsy. Reports suggest that those who hear sounds are most likely to also have narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis has also been associated with Migraines. If this occurs more than once or causes significant distress it is wise to seek medical attention.

Sleep paralysis is more likely to occur when someone has moved to a new location, is under stress or has consumed an excessive amount of alcohol.

Mental health practitioners, therapists, and counselors are mostly concerned with two relationships between sleep and mental health. Is the problem with sleep caused by a mental illness? Symptoms of depression include changes in sleep and appetite. Depression can be seen as the cause of a sleep problem.

Sometimes sleep issues can create symptoms that are diagnosed as mental illness. Nightmares play a role in maintaining depression and PTSD.

Beyond those two alternatives, most other sleep issues are in the providence of medical doctors. There are plenty of sleep problems that are in the International classification of sleep disorders that are not directly included in the DSM.

The following are past posts on connections between sleep and mental health issues.

Getting Rid of Nightmares that Maintain Depression and PTSD

Trauma Steals Your Sleep 

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.