9 Common Drugs Linked to Dementia

If you’re concerned about developing Dementia, you’ve probably memorized the list of steps you should take to reduce your chances: eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and keep your mind and soul stimulated. A dementia test will help determine if you are on the right track. However, some of the drugs you may be taking to assist you in achieving those goals may instead raise your risk of Dementia.
While drugs can provide great benefits, they are not without negative effects. In fact, there is a strong link between certain drugs and Dementia.

Drugs linked to Increased Dementia Risk

There is currently no evidence that certain medications cause Dementia. However, there are some drugs that are firmly linked to an increased risk of dementia Disease. They cause frequent dementia symptoms, such as disorientation and memory loss.

Continue reading to learn about the 9 Common Drugs Linked to Dementia and what to do if you’re concerned about your loved one’s exposure to these drugs.

9 common drugs linked to dementia

1. Antianxiety Drugs (Benzodiazepines)

Treatments with benzodiazepines include anxiety disorders, restlessness, delirium, and muscle spasms and prevent seizures. Because of their calming effect, benzodiazepines are sometimes used to treat insomnia and the tension that can underlie depression.

Examples: chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), flurazepam (Dalmane), midazolam (Versed), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion) and others.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

Benzodiazepines can lead to memory loss by suppressing activity in important areas of the brain, including those responsible for the transfer of events from short- to long-term memory. For this reason, benzodiazepines are used in anesthesia. When combined with the anesthesiologist’s mixture of medications, patients rarely recall any discomfort during a procedure.

2. Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs (Statins)

Among the list of drugs linked to Dementia, Statins also help to treat high cholesterol.

Examples: Fluvastatin (Lescol), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin (Zocor) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

Drugs that lower blood cholesterol levels may damage memory and other mental abilities by decreasing brain cholesterol levels as well. These lipids are also essential in the brain for the creation of connections between nerve cells – the ties that drive memory and learning. (In fact, the brain contains one-quarter of the body’s cholesterol.)

According to a 2009 study published in the journal Pharmacotherapy, three out of every four persons using these medications suffered negative cognitive effects that were “possibly or definitely connected to” the drug. The researchers also discovered that 90% of individuals who stopped taking statins reported advances in cognition, often within days.

Taking the questions out of medication. Shot of a young pharmacist helping an elderly customer.

3. Antiseizure Drugs

These drugs, originally used to treat seizures, are now increasingly used for nerve pain, bipolar illness, mood disorders, and mania.

Examples: Carbamazepine (Tegretol), gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), pregabalin (Lyrica), topiramate (Topamax), and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

Anticonvulsants help to prevent seizures by slowing the flow of signals in the brain’s central nervous system. (CNS). Unfortunately, memory loss can occur with any treatment that reduces signalling in the CNS.

4. Antidepressant Drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants)

A TCA works by treating depression and, to a lesser extent, anxiety disorders, anorexia, obsessive-compulsive syndrome, chronic pain, smoking cessation, and also some hormone-mediated abnormalities such as intense menstrual cramps and hot flashes.

Examples: Clomipramine (Anafranil), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), protriptyline (Vivactil), trimipramine (Surmontil) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

Around 35% of adults taking TCAs experience some degree of cognitive problems, and 54% report trouble focusing. TCAs also appear to induce memory issues by reducing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, two essential chemical messengers in the brain.

elderly person taking medicine

5. Narcotic Painkillers

Among the list of drugs linked to Dementia, Narcotic Painkillers are often known as prescription opioids. They help treat moderate to severe chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis distress.

Examples: Hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin), morphine (Astramorph, Avinza), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

These drugs block the transmission of pain impulses inside the brain’s central nervous system and dampen the emotional response to pain.
Chemical messengers, which play a role in many areas of cognition, regulate both of these actions.
As a result, these medicines can impair both long-term and short-term memory, particularly when used for lengthy periods.

6. Parkinson’s Drugs (Dopamine agonists)

These drugs help treat Parkinson’s disease, pituitary tumours, and, more recently, restless legs syndrome (RLS).

Examples: Apomorphine (Apokyn), pramipexole (Mirapex) and ropinirole (Requip) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

These medications stimulate dopamine signalling pathways, which participate in numerous brain activities such as motivation, joy perception, fine motor control, cognition, and memory.

As a result, serious side effects are possible, including memory loss, disorientation, delusions, hallucinations, sleepiness, and compulsive behaviours like overeating and gambling.

list of drugs linked to Dementia

7. Hypertension Drugs (Beta-blockers)

Beta-blockers are drugs that reduce the heart rate and lower blood pressure. Often prescribed for excessive blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and irregular heart rhythms. They are also used to treat chest pain, migraines, spasms, and some types of glaucoma in the form of eye drops.

Examples: Carvedilol (Coreg), propranolol (Inderal), sotalol (Betapace), timolol (Timoptic) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss: 

The functioning of essential chemical messengers in the brain, such as norepinephrine and epinephrine, is blocked by beta-blockers, causing memory issues.

8. Incontinence drugs (Anticholinergics)

These drugs help to treat overactive bladder symptoms and lessen episodes of urge incontinence, a sudden and strong urge to urinate that often prevents you from reaching a restroom in time.

Examples: Darifenacin (Enablex), solifenacin (Vesicare), tolterodine (Detrol) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

These medications block the functioning of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that regulates a variety of bodily functions. For instance, anticholinergics suppress involuntary spasms of the muscles that govern urine flow in the bladder. They also impede functioning in the brain’s memory and learning areas. When the medications remain in the body for an extended period or along with other anticholinergic treatments, the risk of memory loss increases.

9.Antihistamines (First-generation)

These drugs help to treat or prevent allergy symptoms or common cold symptoms. Some antihistamines also help to treat anxiety, vomiting and sleeplessness.

Examples: Brompheniramine (Dimetane), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Vistaril) and more.

Why these drugs cause memory loss:

They block the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that regulates a multitude of bodily activities. They also block activity in the brain’s memory and learning areas, which can lead to memory loss.

Final Words

While drugs can yield great benefits, they are not without side effects. When possible, the American Geriatrics Society and a number of studies advise clinicians to avoid prescribing these 9 common drugs linked to Dementia to senior citizens.


Source Harvard Health Publishing AARP
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1 year ago

Almost five years have gone by since I began struggling with depression. I am much better now, but I can’t remember nearly two years of my life. I take antidepressants. Now, I want to know that is this forgetfulness a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease or a result of taking these pills.

1 year ago

That’s amazing! Now I have a complete list of drugs that I should avoid. I appreciate you sharing this article with us.