Infectious Disease

Concurrent benzodiazepines, SSRI initiation quite common in anxiety

October 28, 2021

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Bushnell does not report any relevant financial information. Please refer to the study for all relevant financial information from the other authors.

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Simultaneous initiation of treatment with benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors was somewhat common in young adults with anxiety disorders, according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

This initiation was not associated with a longer SSRI persistence.

“We knew that prescribing benzodiazepines and SSRI antidepressants at the same time was a treatment strategy for anxiety disorders, but it was not clear how often that treatment strategy was used.” Greta A. Bushnell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Rutgers School of Public Health in New Jersey, said Healio Psychiatry. “We were specifically interested in studying adolescents and young adults who had concerns about benzodiazepine abuse and little evidence of the efficacy of benzodiazepines and concomitant prescribing in this age group.”

Bushnell and colleagues used a US commercial claims database to collect data from 94,399 adolescents aged 10 to 17 and 130,971 young adults aged 18 to 24 with ICD-9-CM / ICD-10-CM between 2008 and 2018 -Get anxiety disorder diagnoses. The enrolled participants had started SSRI treatment and had not received SSRI and benzodiazepine treatment in the previous year. The researchers defined concurrent initiation as filling out a new benzodiazepine prescription on the SSRI initiation dates. They calculated the time to discontinuation of SSRI treatment and used the stabilized inverse probability of treatment weight for the fitted estimates.

The results showed that 4% of adolescents and 17% of young adults started benzodiazepine treatment at the same time, with variations based on age, anxiety disorder, comorbidities, health care utilization, and provider type. Concurrent use of benzodiazepines in those who initiated SSRIs decreased between 2008 and 2016. Researchers found similar duration of SSRI treatment duration among initiators of simultaneous therapy compared to SSRI monotherapy, which was 6 months or longer in adolescents (55% and 56%, respectively) and young adults (39% versus 40%) ). Nine percent of concomitant induction patients continued the benzodiazepines for 6 months or more.

“In young populations, careful consideration of the benefits and harms of co-prescribing benzodiazepines at the start of SSRIs is needed, especially since no increase in SSRI duration has been observed,” said Bushnell. “In addition, by detailing the frequency of prescribing benzodiazepines concurrently with SSRIs in young populations, these findings will hopefully help develop specific recommendations for co-prescribing in young populations.”

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