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Beware: 20 Medications That Cause Memory Loss

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.

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
antibiotics (quinolones)
high blood pressure drugs
beta blockers (especially those used for glaucoma)
antipsychotics — Haldol, Mellaril
tricyclic antidepressants
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.


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