The miracles of modern medicine can help us calm anxiety, lower blood pressure and reduce chronic pain. But taking medications can have a downside, such as memory impairment. Here are five drug types known to cause memory loss:
Prescribed to calm anxiety and agitation, these drugs can also interfere with your ability to transfer information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
Beta-blockers reduce hypertension and are used to treat conditions like congestive heart failure. However, they can also affect chemical "messenger" agents in your brain, which help us pay attention and process information.
These meds are prescribed for a wide range of conditions: depression, anxiety, smoking cessation, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders, among others. But the Women's Brain Health Initiative reports that memory loss occurs in about one-third of the people who take them because the drug blocks the action of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Statins lower cholesterol levels, but in doing so, they can deprive your brain of cholesterol, too — and your brain uses those lipids to form connections between nerve cells.
Opioid analgesics are great for knocking out moderate-to-severe pain, but they're not so great for your memory. They can interfere with both short-term and long-term memory.
If you suspect drug-related memory trouble
Take medications only as prescribed. Read the labels on your medications carefully to make sure you're not taking too much.
Don't stop cold turkey. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before you stop taking a medication, since quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms or other side effects.