Long-term benzodiazepine use can lead to a generalised impairment of cognition, including sustained attention, verbal learning and memory and psychomotor, visuo-motor and visuo-conceptual abilities. These effects on cognition exist, although their impact on patient's daily functioning is in most but not all cases insignificant. Transient changes in the brain have been found using neuroimaging studies, but no brain abnormalities have been found in patients treated long term with benzodiazepines. When benzodiazepine users cease long-term benzodiazepine therapy, their cognitive function improves in the first six months, although deficits may be permanent or take longer than six months to return to baseline. In the elderly, long-term benzodiazepine therapy is a risk factor for amplifying cognitive decline, although gradual withdrawal is associated with improved cognitive status. A study of alprazolam found that 8 weeks administration of alprazolam resulted in persisting deficits still detectable several weeks later.
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