Are you more likely to forget things lately? Do you have problems with memory in your daily life? Have you ever been in doubt that you suffer from a ‘memory loss’ problem? Is it short or long-term?
A short-term loss is when we forget recent events, while long-term is the inability to keep our memories for a few days to a lifetime.
Many people think of memory loss a side effect of old age. But, this is not necessarily the case. Aging is only one of the reasons, not the only one.
Memory problems can also be triggered by the side effect of certain drugs.
In today’s modern society, due to the fast lifestyle and unhealthy habits, many people take medications on a daily basis. And, very often, without a doctor’s prescription… based only on their own judgment.
Thus, you should be wise when taking medications and always weigh the desired effects with the risk of side effects. Also, you must always consult a health expert before starting to take new medications.
The number of medications that can cause memory loss is long. Here we show you the most common ones.
10 Medications That Cause Memory Loss
1. Anxiety Medications
Examples of anxiety medications, or benzodiazepines, are Xanax, Klonopin, Lorazepam, Valium, and Diazepam.
These drugs have sedative effects and help calm anxiety attacks, relax the muscles and induce sleep. They are useful for the treatment of muscle spasms, seizures, delirium, and anxiety disorders. Also, health experts recommend them for the treatment of depression and insomnia.
The anti-anxiety medications suppress activity in certain key regions of the brain, among which are those involved in memory transfer and formation. Because of their interference, they can slow down the data transfer from short to long-term memory.
To avoid complications, you should use these drugs only for a short time.
2. Cholesterol Medications
Drugs that help lower cholesterol are Lescol, Zocor, Lipitor, Lovastatin, and Pravastatin.
Commonly known as statins, these medications reduce the biosynthesis of cholesterol, and regulate lipids in the metabolism. Doctors prescribe them as a treatment for high levels of cholesterol. While the main action of these drugs is to lower blood cholesterol levels, they also decrease the ‘good cholesterol’ in the body. Hence, they may cause memory problems.
How? About one-quarter of the total cholesterol in the human body is located in the brain. These lipids help the nerve cells connect, supporting learning and memory. By lowering the cholesterol levels in the brain, statins can lead to a degradation or even loss of memory. Studies have found that 3 out of 4 people taking cholesterol medications feel the effects on their memory. Thus, it’s recommendable to avoid statins for a slight rise in cholesterol, and prefer the intake of the vitamins B6, B9, and B12.
Examples of antidepressant drugs are Anafranil, Elavil, Norpramin, Pamelor, and Doxepin.
As their name suggests, we use these drugs to fight depression. They act by blocking the absorption of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, and help the brain cells to send and receive messages. In this way, they help improve mood. Doctors recommend them for the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, chronic pain, menstrual cramps, hot flashes, and smoking cessation.
Noradrenaline and serotonin are the main chemical messengers of the brain. By blocking them, the antidepressants can cause disorientation, confusion, and memory problems.
Also, their effects are dose dependents. Meaning that a high dose may result in greater memory impairment.
4. Antiepileptic Drugs
Examples of antiepileptic drugs include Tegretol, Diamox, Neurontin, Trileptal, and Lamictal.
An abnormal electrical brain activity is usually defined as an epileptic seizure. The antiepileptic drugs decrease the excitability of the membrane, reduce the flow of signals in the brain, and therefore, limit seizures. Doctors prescribe them for the treatment of epileptic seizures, mood disorders, bipolar disorders, and manias.
Every type of drug that reduces signal flow in the brain can induce memory loss. Since antiepileptics decrease the flow in the brain, they can lead to a memory deficiency.
5. Narcotic Analgesics
Narcotic analgesics or painkillers are Hydrocodone, Dilaudid, Oxycodone, Morphine, and Fentanyl.
As their name suggests, these drugs are used to treat acute and chronic, mild or more severe pain. Usually, they are used before, during and after surgery. Hydrocodone is also helpful in treating coughs.
Narcotic painkillers work by blunting pain response and stopping the pain signals. However, the pain response is produced by neurotransmitters involved in memory. This is why they can affect short and long-term memory. And, the longer we use these drugs, the greater the risk of memory loss becomes.
6. Sleeping Pills
Also known as hypnotics, the most common sleeping pills are Sonata, Ambien, and Lunesta.
We need sleep to start the day fresh, and to have the energy to go throughout the day. Thus, sleep deprivation will make anyone nervous and tired. That’s why, many people often turn to sleeping pills, which can help us overcome insomnia and other sleep problems, as well as mild anxiety.
Sleeping pills treat sleep disorders by decreasing sleep latency and increasing sleep time. This means that they decrease some activities in the brain, and can therefore interfere with the formation of short and long-term memory. In some cases, they can even cause amnesia and sleepwalking.
7. Antihypertensive Drugs
Commonly known as beta-blockers, we can find them on the market as Coreg, Toprol, Inderal, Betapace, Timoptic, and Tenormin.
These drugs lower blood pressure and slow down the heart rate. Usually, doctors prescribe them for the treatment of hypertension. In addition, we can use them to treat abnormal heart rhythm and congestive heart failure.
These drugs work by blocking essential chemical signals such as norepinephrine and epinephrine, and can therefore lead to memory loss.
8. Anti-Parkinson’s Drugs
Parkinson’s drugs are Mirapex, Apokyn, and Requip.
As their name suggests, we use these drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease. Also, we can use them as a treatment for restless leg syndrome and certain pituitary tumors.
These drugs work by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for many brain functions, like memory, learning, motivation, fine motor skills, and pleasure experience. This, in turn, may cause cognitive disorders and lead to memory loss.
9. Medications For Incontinence (Anticholinergic)
Also known as anticholinergic, incontinence drugs are Ditropan, Vesicare, Sanctura, Detrol, Enablex, and Oxytrol.
Anti-cholinergic drugs are used to fight against urinary incontinence. They work by relieving the symptoms of overactive bladder and reduce the incontinence episodes, or the sudden strong urges to urinate.
These drugs work by blocking the acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting information all over the body. By doing this, they prevent the involuntary muscle contractions that control the flow of urine and help regulate the problem of incontinence. However, they also inhibit the activity in the central nervous system responsible for learning and forming memories.
10. Antihistamines (First Generation)
You can find these medications on the market as Dimetane, Tavist, Clistin, Chlor-Trimeton, Dendryl, and Vistaril.
H1 antagonists, or first-generation antihistamines, help relieve symptoms of rhinitis, common colds, asthma, allergies, and urticaria. Also, they are used to treat nausea, dizziness, motion sickness, vomiting, conjunctivitis, insomnia, and anxiety.
The H1 antagonists are lipid-soluble drugs, and can therefore enter the brain and interfere with the normal functions. This can further result in memory loss.
There are now newer generations of antihistamines, leading to relatively lower risks on impairing memory and cognitive abilities.