Beware: 20 Medications That Cause Memory Loss

Even though prescription drugs are commonly used for any kind of pain relief, mounting evidence links these medications to more than 100,000 deaths per annum and over 1.5 million hospitalizations due to serious side effects.

One reason for this is that some of these drugs get a pre-time approval before their patent runs out, which leaves very little time for proper testing. Needless, to mention, this creates a range of adverse health effects in patients including memory loss.

Top 3 Types of Meds That Cause Memory Loss

These are the major three categories of drugs linked to memory loss and cognitive decline.


  1. The “Anti” Drugs

The group of drugs including antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antibiotics, antispasmodics, and antihypertensives affect the proper function of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is vital for memory and cognitive function.

To make things worse, most of these medications are easily available without a prescription, and can cause serious damage, especially when not taken in proper doses.

  1. Sleeping Pills

This is another group of drugs that cause both short and long term memory loss. Research has actually confirmed that all sleeping pills trigger different levels of impaired memory and performance. The thing with sleeping pills is that they suppress the proper function of a range of brain cells thus affecting alertness, vigilance, and judgment.

In addition, sleeping pills can even cause “blacking out”, especially when there’s too much alcohol in the system.

These cholesterol-lowering medications have even come under the FDA’s scrutiny recently due to reports of cognitive impairment and memory loss.

These drugs reportedly make patients feel defocused and forgetful.

Picture taken on January 15, 2012 in Lille, northern France, of drug capsules. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

20 Meds That Cause Memory Loss

Below is a list of prescription drugs known to trigger memory loss in patients:

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

What to Do

In case you’re taking any of the above-listed medications and you experience symptoms of memory loss, including:

  • repeatedly asking the same questions,
  • forgetting common words when speaking,
  • getting lost,
  • having mood or behavior swings, and
  • not being able to follow directions,

you should discuss the change of treatment with your health practitioner. Luckily, these side effects are often short-term and subside once the treatment stops.

Also, switching to a diet rich in brain-boosting nutrients and doing regular physical activity is extremely beneficial for brain health.




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