Mental Health and Disability Pension Onset: Changes in Consumption of Antianxiety and Hypnotic Drugs


In Norway, disability pension (DP) has been more prevalent over the later years, with mental disorders being a frequent cause. Previous analyses have questioned whether receiving DP is beneficial for mental health by considering changes in antidepressant drug consumption. To explore this further, we examined changes in antianxiety and hypnotic drug consumption following DP onset.

Based on national Norwegian register data, this retrospective study encompassed 8617 working-age individuals (25-50 years) who became DP during 2005 to 2013. We compared their benzodiazepines (BZD) and Z-hypnotic consumption 1 year pre- and postdisability pension onset.

About 80% of the individuals did not change their altogether benzodiazepine/Z-hypnotic consumption. Among individuals with an initial consumption ≤1 defined daily dose (DDD), 18.9% increased their consumption to above 1 DDD. Individuals in the age-group 45 to 50 versus 24 to 34 years had a lower risk of dose escalation (odds ratio [OR], 0.756, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.601-0.957). Individuals who used Z-hypnotics only had a higher risk of dose escalation compared to the joint benzodiazepine/Z-hypnotic user group (OR, 1.594, 95%CI: 1.284-1.970).

In general, we cannot see that DP is associated with changes in benzodiazepine/Z-hypnotic consumption, but younger users and individuals using Z-hypnotics only had a greater risk of dose escalation compared to the older users and users with combined BZD and Z-hypnotic use.