Five common prescription drugs that cause memory loss

Five common prescription drugs that cause memory loss

Do you want to protect your memory from being wiped out with no warning? We don’t mean just your bad memories. We mean all your memories – sometimes for a little while, but sometimes forever. Thanks to reporter John Ericson’s excellent article in Medical Daily, we have learned that five of the most common prescription drugs impair memory - and you’re probably taking one or more of them yourself every day. In fact, almost everyone in America takes one or more of these drugs at some point in their lives. These drugs can cause memory loss for an extended period of time. Or they can make it impossible to remember what happened just a few minutes ago. And it can continue every day for the rest of your life – even after you’ve stopped taking them. Worst case scenario, we’re talking dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Of course many people still believe that losing memory is simply part of getting old. “Scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable,” says Dr. Armon B. Neel, a geriatric pharmacist with the AARP. “Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.” However, the facts are these: Drug-makers, physicians, and our vaunted protector of public health, the FDA, have all decided that it’s fine to put our brains in danger because of the “risk-to-benefit ratio” - the hoped-for positive aspects of drugs outweigh their risks of serious, and even permanent side effects. In other words, swallowing these pills is a crap-shoot, and your memory may be the losing bet.

The 5 most memory-risking common drugs

Here’s what you need to know about the five most-common memory-risky prescription drugs. Always check with your doctor before stopping or changing medications.

Antianxiety drugs (benzodiazepines)

These may be the scariest of all. Aside from the fact that benzodiazepines are addictive, a recent study in the British Medical Journal revealed that any amount of benzodiazepines over any length of time is directly linked to Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia later in life. Benzos are usually prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and for surgical procedures. But because benzos scramble the transfer of data from short-term memory to long-term memory, they’re called “amnesiacs” so they can do a lot more than relax you. The amnesic side effect of benzodiazepines is well known, and some are much more powerful than others at damaging or preventing memory. One such, the benzo called midazolam (brand name Versed), is a favorite of anesthesiologists who want patients to forget everything that occurs during surgery. What’s new is that even small amounts over a lifetime can lead to Alzheimer’s.

Cholesterol drugs (statins)

Although no clinical trials have been conducted to investigate memory impairment, there have been thousands of anecdotal reports of cognitive impairment, forgetfulness, confusion and even transient global amnesia. The FDA recently called for such risks to be added to statin labels. Cholesterol is essential to brain function, even more so as we age. Reducing blood cholesterol levels is seen by some experts as a risk to thought and memory. There are plenty of alternative diet-and-exercise approaches to lowering cholesterol that are appropriate for most people with moderate to high cholesterol levels.

Blood pressure drugs (beta blockers)

These widely used drugs are closely linked to cognitive impairment and memory loss. There are somewhat safer drugs to reduce blood pressure. But again, there are many effective alternative approaches to managing hypertension that don’t risk your mental abilities.

Antidepressant drugs (tricyclics)

These are pretty scary drugs. Tricyclics are prescribed for all sorts of psychological problems, such as eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). But more than a third of people on these drugs suffer memory loss, and half of all patients have trouble concentrating. There are alternative approaches that should be tried before agreeing to take such dangerous medication.

Sleeping Aids (Nonbenzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics)

f you’re concerned about “losing your mind,” be aware that these drugs are almost as bad as benzos. They also scramble memory connections, and can lead to permanent memory loss. Talk to your doctor about alternative approaches to handling your insomnia, such as the supplement melatonin. Novus Medical Detox specializes in helping people detox from damaging and addictive drugs. If you or someone you care for is using or abusing psychoactive drugs such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants and need assistance, don’t hesitate to call. We’re here to help.

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