It's no secret that many medications come with side effects. Some side effects of long-term medication use are manageable compared with the improvement of the condition the medication is treating. However, the occurrence of memory lapses might be problematic; memory issues can affect professional performance, personal relationships, and well-being. Any medication that influences cognitive functions and the other parts of the brain used for processing information is likely to inhibit memory. Keep reading to find the most common medications that may cause memory lapses.
Over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills have a sedative effect that can induce drowsiness during the day. This kind of mental fogginess can cause difficulties when it comes to absorbing, processing, and recalling information. If you are experiencing memory lapses from these medications, try swapping pharmaceutical sleep medications for herbal alternatives; St. John's wort, valerian, and lavender all have natural sedative properties that promote restful sleep without drowsiness. A few drops of essential oil in your evening bath or consuming an herbal infusion before bed could help send you to sleep.
Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger that mediates many functions, including memory and learning, and antihistamine (i.e., anti-allergy) medications tend to inhibit this action. As an herbal alternative, stinging nettles are thought to limit sneezing and itching by suppressing the amount of histamines the body produces in response to certain allergies, particularly in hay fever (i.e., an allergy to pollen). Try taking a freeze-dried nettle preparation before the high pollen season begins to limit the onset of hay fever.
Anti-anxiety medications - or benzodiazepines - dampen certain activities in the brain, including the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term. Benzodiazepines have such potent memory obscuring effects they are often used in anesthesia to spare the patient the memory of unpleasantness from medical procedures. A change of lifestyle to deal with anxiety and use of herbal relaxants, such as lavender, could help alleviate the condition and its effects.
Some forms of antidepressants may interfere with the memory-forming process. There are many types of antidepressants, and you may be able to find one that works with your body without affecting memory, but increasing other positive habits - such as counseling, support group sessions, use of online support forums, and exercising - could also help treat depression.
Of course, there are many brands and preparations of medications; the above is a guideline, but if you have any doubts about whether your medications have the potential to induce memory lapses, read the side effects listed on the package and arrange a consultation with your doctor if you're still unsure. Similarly, consult with your doctor before making any major changes to your medication routine to ensure the change is in the best possible interest of your health and well-being.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Coping with Memory loss. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm107783.htm
- National Institutes of Health. (2012). St. John's Wort. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/329.html
- National Institutes of Health. (2011). Valerian. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/870.html
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Stinging nettle. Retrieved June 17, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/stinging-nettle