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What Medications Cause Memory Loss

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Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss

Poster by: Linda Kay | August 10, 2014

We all experience times when we cant seem to remember as many details as we used to. Like the time you got up, headed to another room, and couldnt remember why you made the trip. Is it forgetfulness or some other memory loss disorder? Just maybe its your medications.

We have condensed the following information from an article in AARP Magazine by Dr. Armon B. Neel, Jr. To read the complete article,

Heres a list of medications that can cause some memory loss along with some alternatives.

1. Antianxiety drugs

Prescribed for: Anxiety disorders, agitation, delirium and spasms, and to prevent seizures. Because benzodiazepines have a sedative effect, they are sometimes used to treat insomnia and the anxiety that can accompany depression.

Examples: Alprazolam , chlordiazepoxide , clonazepam , diazepam , flurazepam , lorazepam , midazolam , quazepam , temazepam and triazolam .

How they can cause memory loss: Benzodiazepines dampen activity in key parts of the brain, including those involved in the transfer of events from short-term to long-term memory.

Alternatives: Benzodiazepines should be prescribed only rarely in older adults for short periods of time.

Consult your health care professional before stopping or reducing the dosage of any benzodiazepine. Sudden withdrawal can trigger serious side effects, so a health professional should always monitor the process.

2. Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Prescribed for: Treating high cholesterol.

Anticholinergics: The Anti Drugs

Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter of memory and learning.

When youre low in acetylcholine, you become forgetful and cant concentrate.

You may struggle to find the right words when you speak.

Acetylcholine deficiencies are associated with dementia and Alzheimers medications for these disorders work by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain.

Drugs that block the action of acetylcholine are known as anticholinergics.

Its easy to pick out many drugs that are anticholinergics because their common names start with anti as in:

  • antacids

Common side effects of anticholinergic drugs include:

  • blurred vision
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of bladder control

Low acetylcholine can lead to a cluster of symptoms that resembles dementia, including mental confusion, brain fog, incoherent speech, delirium, blurred vision, memory loss, and hallucinations.

Anticholinergic Drugs and Seniors

The side effects of anticholinergic drugs are more pronounced in seniors due to the natural decline in acetylcholine production that occurs with age.

The increased risk of dementia from anticholinergic drugs is significant around 30%.

Sadly, the use of anticholinergic drugs is known to increase the risk of falls and all-cause mortality in the elderly.

Anticholinergic Drug Lists

Rather than list all of the drugs known to be anticholinergic here, weve assembled a few reputable anticholinergic drug lists.

Risks Should Be Carefully Considered

To assess the strength of anticholinergic drugs and how often the participants took them, the team looked at available information about prescriptions over a period of 10 years.

However, they note that this is an observational study, so they cannot confirm whether the drugs are directly responsible for the increased risk of dementia.

The researchers add that doctors may have prescribed some of these drugs to their patients precisely for the treatment of very early dementia symptoms.

Nevertheless, Prof. Coupland argues that the study adds further evidence of the potential risks associated with strong anticholinergic drugs, particularly antidepressants, bladder antimuscarinic drugs, anti-Parkinsons drugs, and epilepsy drugs.

The risks of this type of medication should be carefully considered by healthcare professionals alongside the benefits when the drugs are prescribed and alternative treatments should be considered where possible.

Prof. Carol Coupland

These findings also highlight the importance of carrying out regular medication reviews.

We found a greater risk for people diagnosed with dementia before the age of 80, which indicates that anticholinergic drugs should be prescribed with caution in middle-aged people as well as in older people, she concludes.

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Youre A Woman In Or Around Menopause

Among the many joys of perimenopause and the transition itself may be a small but significant cognitive impairment, according to research, that may be independent of age. Theories abound, but the bottom line is that we dont really know exactly why this happens, says Dr. Faubion.

The sorta kinda good news? Research has suggested that things go back to pre-menopause levels once youre through the ups and downs of the transition. That said, this is far from certain, especially if you have other factors, such as poverty or HIV. Women, especially women of color, with multiple risk factors may be more vulnerable to longer-lasting memory problems, says Dr. Faubion. Some of the women who were of highest risk in terms of socio-cultural stressors, with and without HIV, didnt look better on the other side of menopause, she says.

Whats more, perimenopause often brings on mood changes, such as anxiety and depression, and sleep problems, sometimes caused by symptoms like hot flashes. These can all affect memory. Which brings us to

When To Contact A Doctor

Stop Using These 20 Medications Because They Cause Memory Loss

A person should contact a doctor if memory problems interfere with their daily life or quality of life. Severe memory problems are not an inevitable part of aging. A doctor should assess people with more serious memory symptoms to determine the cause and prescribe treatment where appropriate.

People who have mild cognitive impairment should visit their doctor regularly to monitor changes in their cognition over time.

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Surprising Causes Of Memory Loss

If you have difficulty remembering things, your mind may make the leap to Alzheimers disease but thats not the only cause of memory loss.

You cant find your keys or you forget an appointment. For many people in middle age or older, simple acts of forgetfulness like these are scary because they raise the specter of Alzheimers disease.

But Alzheimers is not the only health issue that can lead to forgetfulness, which is often treatable if you know the cause, according to the National Institute on Aging. Memory loss can happen at any age and for a number of reasons.

Patients might experience memory loss and describe their symptoms similarly, but a doctor can tease apart what parts of the brain are affected, says Seth Gale, MD, a neurologist at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.

He points out things like polypharmacy , significant depression, and poor sleep that can lead to memory complaints. When you drill down and find out what is actually happening with brain function, you can reassure someone. They have the capacity to learn and store information but because of their overloaded mental resources, they are having trouble, says Dr. Gale.

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Common Causes Of Forgetfulness

Memory slips are aggravating, frustrating, and sometimes worrisome. When they happen more than they should, they can trigger fears of looming dementia or Alzheimers disease. But there are some treatable causes of forgetfulness. Here are six common ones.

Lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is perhaps the greatest unappreciated cause of forgetfulness. Too little restful sleep can also lead to mood changes and anxiety, which in turn contribute to problems with memory.

Medications. Tranquilizers, antidepressants, some blood pressure drugs, and other medications can affect memory, usually by causing sedation or confusion. That can make it difficult to pay close attention to new things. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect that a new medication is taking the edge off your memory. As shown in the table below, alternatives are usually available.

Medications that may affect memory and possible substitutes

If you take these drugs

ask about switching to one of these drugs


another antidepressant such as fluoxetine or sertraline , or a different type of antidepressant such as duloxetine or venlafaxine


Underactive thyroid. A faltering thyroid can affect memory . A simple blood test can tell if your thyroid is doing its job properly.

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Lipitor And Memory Loss

Lipitor is one of the most popular cholesterol treatments on the market. In fact, about 18 million people in the U.S. alone take Lipitor. Like most medications, there are potential side effects with Lipitor. One potential, but rare, side effect is memory loss. About 2 percent of the patients who’ve taken this cholesterol treatment have reported side effects that include memory loss. So, while it is rare, there is a potential link between Lipitor and memory loss.

Can You Get Your Memory Back If You Stop Using Illegal Drugs

How medication is tied to memory loss

The process of becoming sober takes dedicated time and unwavering patience. It can also become extremely frustrating. Martin stated, Your difficulty recalling events or behaviors does not mean that you are going crazy. Nor does it mean that you have destroyed all your brain cells. It is, instead, a normal process that is part of recoveryReturning to drug use is not the answer. You can and will relearn the skills in the same ways that you learned them in the first place.

Additionally, according to a CBS Miami report, numerous items can be utilized to assist in moving the process right along.

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Recovery Awaits At Chapel Hill Today

It can be challenging to adopt the strategies mentioned here in a real-world setting especially if you are not surrounded by a supportive community. Here at Chapel Hill Detox, we offer a clinical program that combines daily primary process groups, daily individual therapy sessions, and psychoeducational groups. Contact us today to begin a healthy lifestyle free from addiction.

Stop Using These 20 Medications Because They Cause Memory Loss

Every year, prescription drugs are responsible for more than 100,000 deaths and lead to over 1.5 million cases of hospitalized people who experienced severe side-effects. Adverse drug reactions are the top leading reason of death in the United States.

Every prescription drug carries some risk, but one of the most common side-effects is memory loss.

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Common Types Of Medication That Are Anticholinergic

Here are seven common types of anticholinergic medication that older adults should avoid, or use with caution:

1. Sedating antihistamines. The prime example is diphenhydramine , which is available over-the-counter and has strong anticholinergic activity. Non-sedating antihistamines, such as loratadine are less anticholinergic and are safer for the brain.

2. PM versions of over-the-counter painkillers. Most OTC painkillers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen come in a PM or night-time formulation, which means a mild sedative usually an antihistamine has been mixed in. Ditto for night-time cold and cough medications such as Nyquil.

3. Medications for overactive bladder. These include bladder relaxants such as oxybutynin and tolterodine .

4. Medications for vertigo or motion sickness. Meclizine is often prescribed to treat benign positional vertigo. Its also used to treat motion sickness.

5. Medications for itching. These include the strong antihistamines hydroxyzine and diphendyramine , which are often prescribed for itching or hives.

6. Medications for nerve pain. An older class of antidepressant known as tricyclics isnt used for depression that much any longer, but its still used to treat pain from neuropathy. Commonly-used tricyclics include amitriptyline and nortriptyline.

7. Muscle relaxants. These include drugs such as cyclobenzaprine and they are often prescribed for back or neck pain.

How To Boost Your Memory Back

Beware: 20 Medications That Cause Memory Loss
  • Playing brain training games
  • Establishing and maintaining social connections
  • By embracing the above-suggested strategies, it can provide a great boost to an individuals cognitive function while also reducing an individuals risk of relapse and addiction while improving and recovering it. Martin suggests, Recovery takes time, but as you unlearn the habits of addiction, you will relearn the skills and behaviors that you acquired earlier. It will be found that patience is crucial during the addiction recovery process.

    Illegal drugs that cause memory loss pose an actual concern. Long-term addiction and drug use can affect various facets of an individuals brain including memory loss to a persons ability to breathe.

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    Less Common Causes Of Memory Loss

    Other conditions that can lead to problems with memory include:

    • Infection: Memory loss may be attributed to severe infection around the brain, including neurosyphilis, Gale says.
    • Head injury: Symptoms of a mild brain injury may include confusion and trouble with memory and concentration, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
    • Tumors: Memory and the ability to process information may be affected by brain tumors, the American Brain Tumor Association says. In addition, treatments for a tumor can affect your memory, including brain surgery, chemo, or radiation therapy.
    • Alcoholism, Substance Abuse: Both alcoholism and drug abuse can affect memory, says Lyketsos. A study found that men who drank heavily showed signs of mental decline one to six years earlier than light drinkers.

    Medications That Can Cause Memory Loss

    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Painkillers like codeine heroin, morphine
    • Chemotherapy drugs
    • Antipsychotics like Haldol or Mellaril
    • Epilepsy like phenytoin or Dilantin
    • Barbiturates like Seconal, Phenobarbital , Amytal, Nembutal
    • Antihistamines
    • Beta blockers especially for glaucoma
    • Antibiotics
    • Sleeping pills like Sonata, Ambien, Lunesta
    • Parkinsons disease like glycopyrrolate, scopolamine, atropine
    • Benzodiazepines like Ativan, Dalmane, Valium, Xanax

    According to the former vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Richard C. Mohs these are the 20 prescribed drugs that are known to cause memory loss.

    Always consult your doctor before taking any drug, especially these types of drugs. Before you decide to use them try to treat the problems naturally with natural ingredients and remedies, exercise regularly and change the lifestyle.

    But if you really need to take them than dont forget to protect the brain from the negative effects and take supplements, do physical exercises and establish brain healthy diet.

    In order to keep the health of the brain always try to find the healthiest and best options for the treatment of a certain medical problems. This way you will protect the brain and your overall health and the drugs won`t be able to harm you.

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    If Youre Experiencing Forgetfulness Or Confusion Check Your Medicine Cabinet

    by Dr. Armon B. Neel, Jr., February 9, 2016| 0

    For a long time doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as a normal part of aging. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

    But what many people don’t realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.

    Prescription Medications Short Term Memory Loss Cause

    5 Popular Drugs That Cause Memory Loss & May Lead To Alzheimer’s – by Dr Sam Robbins

    A number of prescription drugs, especially in combination with each other, can cause memory loss symptoms. Readers who experience signs of memory loss with any of the medications listed below should contact their physician for a possible drug interaction-memory loss evaluation.


    Common prescriptions include: Alprazolam , chlordiazepoxide , clonazepam , diazepam , flurazepam , lorazepam , midazolam , quazepam , temazepam and triazolam

    Opioid medications

    See this page for further information.

    Tricyclic antidepressants

    Tricyclic antidepressants were initially developed in the 1950s. They are now commonly prescribed for other conditions such as chronic pain and eating disorders.

    Common prescriptions include: Amitriptyline , clomipramine , desipramine , doxepin , imipramine , nortriptyline , protriptyline and trimipramine


    Common medications include: diphenhydramine ,brompheniramine , carbinoxamine , chlorpheniramine , clemastine , and hydroxyzine

    Newer-generation antihistamines such as loratadine and cetirizine tend to have fewer side effects related to memory impairment.


    Common prescriptions include: Darifenacin , oxybutynin , solifenacin , tolterodine and trospium

    Special note: Long term use of anticholinergics in older adults can significantly increase the probability of cognitive impairment and memory loss symptoms. See Ref 1, below.

    Sleep aids

    Common prescriptions include: Eszopiclone , zaleplon and zolpidem

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    Two Common Classes Of Drugs Have Been Linked To Dementia Fortunately There Are Alternatives To Both

    Image: Thinkstock

    If you’re worried about developing dementia, you’ve probably memorized the list of things you should do to minimize your riskeating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and keeping your mind and soul engaged. In addition, some of the drugs you may be taking to help you accomplish those things could increase your risk of dementia. In two separate large population studies, both benzodiazepines and anticholinergics were associated with an increased risk of dementia in people who used them for longer than a few months. In both cases, the effect increased with the dose of the drug and the duration of use.

    These findings didn’t come entirely as a surprise to doctors who treat older people. The Beer’s List published by the American Geriatrics Society has long recognized benzodiazepines, antihistamines, and tricyclic antidepressants as potentially inappropriate for older adults, given their side effects. Such drugs are on the list because they share troubling side effectsconfusion, clouded thinking, and memory lapsesthat can lead to falls, fractures, and auto accidents.

    The Anticholinergic Drugs You Should Worry About

    Based on the study findings, you may be at significant risk of developing memory loss or dementia if you are on a strong anticholinergic drug. This risk increases if you are on more than one. Common anticholinergic medications to watch out for include:

    • Drugs for incontinence, such as darifenacin , oxybutynin , solifenacin , tolterodine , and trospium .
    • Bronchodilators for asthma and other COPDs, such as ipratropium and tiotropium .
    • Drugs for Parkinson disease, such as benztropine and trihexyphenidyl .
    • Certain muscle relaxants, such as orphenadrine and tizanidine .
    • Certain anti-depressants, including amitriptyline , clomipramine , desipramine , doxepin , imipramine , and nortriptyline .

    Some anticholinergic drugs shouldnt cause any worry, as they didnt increase the risk of dementia in the study. These include:

    • Certain antihistamines, such as fexofenadine , loratadine , desloratadine , and levocetirizine .
    • Certain gastrointestinal treatments, such as cimetidine and famotidine .
    • Certain bronchodilators, including ipratropium and tiotropium .
    • Certain muscle relaxants, such as baclofen and methocarbamol .

    Ultimately, you may want to ask your doctor about your risk for memory loss if you are on any sort of anticholinergic medication, just to be safe. Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives that dont have that side effect.

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