Healthy Living

Beware: 20 Medications That Cause Memory Loss

memory loss, drugs that cause memory loss, medications that cause memory loss
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Prescription drugs cause over 100,000 deaths per year and cause another 1.5 million people to experience side effects so severe they must be hospitalized.

Adverse drug reactions are now the fourth leading cause of death in the US. (1) Every medication carries some risks and memory loss is a very common side effect.

The Top 3 Types of Drugs That Cause Memory Loss

If you are taking any prescription medication, the odds are that it falls into one of these three categories of drugs known to cause memory loss and other cognitive problems:

The “Anti” Drugs

If you take a drug that starts with “anti,” such as antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antibiotics, antispasmodics, or antihypertensives, it’s likely that it will affect your acetylcholine levels.

Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter involved with memory and learning. Low acetycholine can lead to symptoms that resemble dementia including mental confusion, delirium, blurred vision, memory loss, and hallucinations. (2)

Sleeping Pills

Prescription sleeping pills are notorious for causing memory loss.

The popular drug Ambien has been coined by some as “the amnesia drug.” Some users experience night terrors, sleep walking, sleep driving, and hallucinations.

Prescription sleeping pills have been found to put you in a state similar to being passed out drunk or in a coma while bypassing the restorative sleep your brain needs. (3) There are much better ways to get to sleep!

Statin Drugs

These cholesterol-lowering medications might just be the single worst group of drugs for your brain. (4) Memory loss is now required to be listed as a side effect on the label.

One quarter of your brain is made up of cholesterol. Cholesterol is necessary for memory, learning, and fast thinking. So it is not a total surprise that cholesterol-lowering drugs negatively effect the brain.

Learn why taking statins might not be in your best interest, and how to talk to your doctor about getting off of them in Exposed: Why Cholesterol Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease and If You Take Cholesterol Medication, You Must Know This!

20 Medications Known to Cause Memory Loss

Here is a list of medications known to have memory loss as a possible side effect:

  • for Parkinson’s — scopolamine, atropine, glycopyrrolate
  • for epilepsy — phenytoin or Dilantin
  • painkillers — heroin, morphine, codeine
  • sleeping pills — Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata
  • benzodiazepines — Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Dalmane
  • quinidine
  • naproxen
  • steroids
  • antibiotics (quinolones)
  • antihistamines
  • interferons
  • high blood pressure drugs
  • insulin
  • beta blockers (especially those used for glaucoma)
  • methyldopa
  • antipsychotics — Haldol, Mellaril
  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • lithium
  • barbiturates — Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, phenobarbital
  • chemotherapy drugs

This list was assembled by Richard C. Mohs, Ph.D., former vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. (5)

What You Can Do Next

Are you taking any of these medications? If so, we recommend you talk to your doctor if you believe it’s affecting your memory.

Get your doctor to work with you to find better options — different prescriptions and/or making healthy lifestyle choices — instead.

Meanwhile, use the lifestyle advice you find here on our website.

Even if you have to stay on your medication, you can lessen the load on your brain by taking proactive steps such as eating a brain-healthy diet, getting the physical exercise your brain needs, and taking the right brain supplements.

Give your brain the healthiest possible environment to stay mentally sharp in spite of your medications.

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