20 Common Medications That Can Cause Memory Loss


By Deane Alban

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

If you take cholesterol lowering medication, you are probably aware that it can cause memory loss since it is now required to state a warning about this on its label. But there are many other medications that can cause memory loss too. The fact is, any medicine that can cause cognitive impairment could lead to a misdiagnosis of dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Association reports that prescription drugs are “the most common cause of misdiagnosed or ‘reversible’ dementia”.

While the right medicine can reverse the course of serious diseases and improve a senior’s quality of life immeasurably, medications also cause problems. Classes of drugs that carry this risk include anti-histamines, antibiotics, corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, antiemetics, muscle relaxants and opioid pain killers.

Meds That Can Cause Memory Loss

Here is a list of common pharmaceutical medications that can cause memory loss:

  • Parkinson’s drugs — scopolamine, atropine, glycopyrrolate
  • Epilepsy drugs — 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

What You Can Do Next

You’ve read this list. Are any of these medications you’re taking? If so, talk to your doctor if you believe they’re affecting your memory.

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

If you are taking more than one medication, the chance of negative interactions goes up exponentially. Learn more about the problems of mixing medications in Protect Your Brain from the Perils of Polypharmacy.

Meanwhile, continue to use the lifestyle advice you find here on our website. Even if you have to stay on the medication, you can lessen the load on your brain by taking proactive steps such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking the right supplements. Give your brain the healthiest possible environment to stay mentally sharp as long as you can.

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.


Previous articles by Deane:

About the author:

deane alban

Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. Her current focus is helping people overcome brain fog, “senior moments”, and other signs of mental decline now, and preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia in the future.

The human brain is designed to last a lifetime, but modern life takes a greater toll on the brain than most people realize. Deane teaches the best ways to keep your brain healthy and stay mentally sharp for life at her website BeBrainFit.com.


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