Since September is known as Alzheimer’s month and the East Texas Chapter of Alzheimer’s along with the participation of the Nacogdoches Pilot Club will be kicking off another walk-a-thon to END Alzheimer’s in just a few weeks…. I thought it might be good idea to discuss some of the commonly prescribed medications that can lead to or possibly worsen memory loss mimicking Alzheimer’s:
After all memory loss could be caused by none other than the medications in your drug cabinet rather than your AGE!
Since according to one publication over 90% of people over the age of 65 take at least ONE medication more than any other age group and usually several medications which are likely to interact with one another increasing the risk of memory loss due to drug reactions.
New studies have revealed a direct correlation between commonly prescribed and over the counter medications used to treat anxiety, insomnia, itching or allergies or colds and loss of concentration and poor memory particularly in the elderly population. More important is the fact that the effect of these medications maybe overlooked in an otherwise healthy individual!
Here is a list of commonly used drugs which could mimic Alzheimer’s …… common factor is that MOST block the activity of the chemical CHOLINE –crucial chemical in making memories and learning!
Therefore, if any one is taking drugs in any of these categories and are experiencing PROBLEMS with Memory make sure to consult a physician ASAP……
1) Statin (cholesterol) medications- These are drugs used to lower cholesterol like Lipitor….The brain contains a quarter of the body’s cholesterol, and lipids (fats) are crucial to the connection between nerve cells. According to study published in a journal of pharmacotherapy in 2009 3/4 people using these drugs experience some type of cognitive decline. 90% of patients who stopped therapy reported improved cognition within days!
2) Anti-anxiety medications – in the class of benzodiazepines…medications like Valium, Xanax, Klonopin….all of these drugs are metabolized (broken down in the liver) but, as we age our metabolism takes longer and it is slower therefore the effects of the medications linger on for a longer period of time and varies from person to person. The elderly take longer to metabolize which can lead to more interactions if taking other medications as well…dulling the senses.
3) Anti-seizure medications- all drugs that depress signal of central nervous system can potentially cause memory loss! (e.g. Topamax, Tegretol..)
4) Antihistamine (allergy) medications- this class includes medicines like Benadryl. They are also used to relieve nausea, dizziness, motion sickness as well as colds and allergies. These medications block cholinergic activity which is crucial for memory and learning!
5) Antidepressant medications- especially the older antidepressants in the class of tri-cyclic example of this is elavil (amitryptiline)-these cause memory loss by blocking action of a chemical called serotonin ( important in mood and sleep) and norepinephrine.
6) Parkinson’s medications- the dopamine system which is what a lot of these drugs target is involved in motivation, pleasure- seeking behavior, fine motor control, cognition and memory , & learning. Therefore any disruption to this system can alter our perception of the world impacting learning which is then directly encoded into our permanent memory banks. Other Parkinson drugs work on the cholinergic and glutamate system same systems that are believed to be disrupted in Alzheimer’s therefore causing great memory disturbances. (especially medications like ARTANE, AMANTADINE & COGENTIN)
7) Pain pills-class of opioids/ narcotics – these hamper the signal to flow of pain and blunt emotional reaction to pain…both of these reactions are mediated by chemical messengers that are involved in various aspects of cognition so they can with interfere with both long and short -term memory.
8) Sleeping aids- these also work on chemical messengers like pain pills therefore interfering with memory processing and have similar problems with withdrawal and addiction.
9) Incontinence (bladder) medications- In the brain these medications block cholinergic activity which is crucial for memory and learning!
10) Hypertension medications (blood pressure)-interfere with both norepinephrine and epinephrine key chemicals in the brain.
Always Important to KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TAKING!
Dr. M. De Leon is a retired movement disorder specialist, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF; Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at www.facebook.com/defeatparkinsons101 you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.pdf.org or at www.wemove.org; www.alz.org, www.aan.org, www.defeatparkinsons.blogspot.com
may also contact me at
This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute i) medical advice or counseling, ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care treatment or diagnosis, iii) or the creation of a physician-patient relationship. If you have or suspect a medical problem, contact your physician promptly!