Thursday, February 12, 2015

Benzodiazepine Use in Bipolar Linked to Illness Complexity, Demographic Factors, Study Shows

Benzodiazepine use in patients with bipolar disorders is associated with greater illness complexity as indicated by a higher number of concomitant psychotropic medications and higher anxiety symptom burden, according to a report in the current Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Researchers at multiple institutions examined the prevalence of and factors associated with benzodiazepine use among 482 patients with bipolar I or II disorder enrolled in the Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness for Bipolar Disorder (Bipolar CHOICE) study. Eighty-one subjects were prescribed benzodiazepines at study entry and were considered benzodiazepine users.

They found that anxiety symptom level (regardless of diagnosis), lamotrigine use, number of concomitant psychotropic medications, college education, and high household income predicted benzodiazepine use. Benzodiazepine users were prescribed a significantly higher number of other psychotropic medications and were more likely to be prescribed lamotrigine or antidepressants as compared with benzodiazepine nonusers. They were more likely to have a diagnosis of bipolar I disorder and comorbid anxiety disorder (but not comorbid alcohol or substance use disorders) and they also experienced more anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidality than did benzodiazepine nonusers.

“Demographic factors were also important determinants of benzodiazepine use, which may be related to access to care and insurance coverage for benzodiazepines,” the researchers state.

For more about benzodiazepine use see the Psychiatric News article, “Benzodiazepine Prescriptions Found to Increase Substantially With Age.”

(Image: Iculig/


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