Tags: memory loss | forgetfulness | brain fog | confusion | medications | anxiety | cholesterol

Medications That Can Cause Memory Loss

woman looking concerned with hands on head because can't remember something

By    |   Tuesday, 18 June 2024 09:55 AM EDT

Maybe you are not losing your mind after all! Sometimes forgetfulness, brain fog or confusion is the result of the medications you are taking. While Alzheimer’s disease and depression can trigger loss of memory, certain drugs in your medicine cabinet can also have the same effect.

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Here are some examples:

• Antianxiety drugs. Benzodiazepines are used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders and have a sedative effect, which can dampen activity in key parts of the brain, including those involved in the transfer of events from short-term to long-term memory, says AARP. Experts recommend that these drugs, such as Xanax and Valium, should not be routinely prescribed for older adults who have more trouble than younger people in flushing the medication out of their system. This puts older folks at higher risk for memory loss as well as delirium, falls, fractures and motor vehicle accidents.

• Antiseizure drugs. These drugs are used not only to treat seizures but also to alleviate nerve pain, bipolar disorder, mood disorders and mania, says AARP. Lyrica and Tegretol are two examples. They work by dampening the flow of signals within the central nervous system (CNS). Drugs that depress signaling in the CNS can also cause memory loss. Ask your doctor if there is an alternative drug to control seizures without the sedative effect.

• Narcotic painkillers. Opioids are sometimes prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain from surgery or injuries. Vicodin and Oxycontin are examples of these drugs. They work by stopping pain signals within the CNS and by blunting the emotional reaction to pain. Both these actions involve chemical messengers that are also involved in cognition, so using these drugs for extended periods of time can interfere with memory. Researchers have also found a link between opioid use and the increased risk of dementia. Again, ask your doctor for safer alternatives.

• Beta-blockers. Beta-blockers are used to treat hypertension and conditions like congestive heart failure, says Memorial Satilla Health. However, they can also affect chemical “messenger” agents in your brain that help us pay attention and process information.

• Tricyclic antidepressants. These medicines are prescribed for a wide range of conditions that include depression, anxiety, smoking cessation, and others, says Memorial Satilla Health. The Women’s Brain Health Initiative reports that memory loss occurs in about one-third of people who take these antidepressants because the drug blocks the action of neurotransmitters in the brain. Some examples include Anafranil and Norpramin.

• Sleep aids. Drugs like Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien can be used to treat sleep problems such as insomnia and even mild anxiety. Although they differ molecularly from benzodiazepines, they travel the same pathways in the brain and produce similar side effects and problems with addiction and withdrawal. They can also cause amnesia and strange behaviors such as driving a car with no recollection of the incident.

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• Statins. These drugs are prescribed to lower cholesterol, but they may also lower cholesterol in the brain. Your brain uses these lipids to form connections between nerve cells.

This is just a partial list of the medications that can trigger memory loss, so if you are experiencing symptoms such as fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness or confusion, check with your doctor or pharmacist to reviews the drugs you’ve been prescribed.

Remember that taking multiple medications can also cause loss of memory function in older adults as well as an increased risk of delirium. Statistics show that 42% of older adults take five or more prescription drugs. If you are concerned about the number of pills in your pill box, ask your doctor if every one of them is necessary. If you do stop taking any medication, taper off slowly with the supervision of your provider.  

Lynn C. Allison

Lynn C. Allison, a Newsmax health reporter, is an award-winning medical journalist and author of more than 30 self-help books.

© 2024 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Maybe you are not losing your mind after all! Sometimes forgetfulness, brain fog or confusion may be the result of the medications you are taking. While Alzheimer's disease and depression can trigger loss of memory, certain drugs in your medicine cabinet can also have the...
memory loss, forgetfulness, brain fog, confusion, medications, anxiety, cholesterol, depression
Tuesday, 18 June 2024 09:55 AM
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