The human brain is a remarkable organ that works to process visual, auditory and other sensory information and has the capability to perceive, to react, to make decisions, and to hold memories. Your brain is always gathering information and storing it for future use.1
Memories are important for learning things and to survive. They are the reason for your cognition. Memory loss can impair the quality of your life. Over time memory losses progress to a condition called dementia. It can then progress from mild to moderate to severe and lead to loss of dignity and comfort. You can be pushed to depression eventually. Hence, memory is very important for your survival and sanity.2
It is very important to preserve the brain’s ability to keep the memories. Over time, the brain’s function starts to decline as well. In addition to that, some of the medicines you take that are prescribed by your doctor, may have an impact on your intelligence, memory, or your mood. Taking these drugs for a long time can be detrimental to your mental health.3
All You Need To Know About The Brain
The brain is the most important organ in your body. It determines your emotions, and is the reason for your mood and it holds your treasures called memories. You need to remember to survive and memories are the way we remember incidents and the way we learn new things.
In childhood, you have the magnificent ability to remember everything but this declines with age. Hence, it is imperative for you to safeguard your mental health right from the beginning. As you grow older, your brain cells decrease in number and are more susceptible to damage.
Some prescription drugs that you take may cause brain injury. Also the aging of the cells will aggravate the condition and can cause severe memory loss, which in turn will negatively impact the quality of your life. These medications can potentially alter your memory and intellectual functions. In addition, certain combinations of drugs are likely to produce confusion and memory loss.4
Medications That Severely Affect Your Brain
1. Major Tranquilizers
Tranquilizers can be a major factor in depressing memory function and decreasing memory-retention abilities. Major tranquilizers such as thorazine and compazine produce severe brain dysfunction and memory loss. These agents can cause involuntary movements of the face or tongue, with occasional tonic spasms of the legs and the arms. They cause severe impairment of memory.
Related drugs like haloperidol have much the same antipsychotic effects as the major tranquilizers. They tend to cause severe interruptions of thought and memory which are oftentimes dose-dependent. Reducing or eliminating this drug will reduce its toxic effects on thinking and memory but often a decrease in dosage will precipitate a recurrence of the original symptoms, including hallucinations, that prompted the use of this drug.
A gradual decrease in dosage and not suddenly withdrawing from the use of the drug can improve the memory function. 5
Antidepressants are another class of psychoactive drugs, many of which have different chemical characteristics. Elavil, a known drug for treating chronic depression is associated with symptoms of memory loss apart from experience of dryness in the mouth, constipation, dizziness, weight gain, and sleepiness. You can also experience increased sensitivity to the sun, confusion and even agitation.
Prozac, on the other hand, has minimal impact on memory but is associated with side effects like nervousness, diarrhea, headaches, and insomnia. Before you take either of these drugs, you should always be aware of the long and short-term side effects. If one of the medications that you are taking is causing brain poisoning, it is not advisable to withdraw from all medications.
Doing so would deprive you of needed therapy. Your practitioner should be aware of the side effects that you are facing and he will carefully adjust the dosage of the medication causing the problem.6
4. Anti-Hypertensive Drugs
Antihypertensive drugs may have serious effects on memory and intellectual capacity just like the antidepressant drugs. Beta-blockers may decrease memory performance more consistently than other antihypertensive drugs which have very little effect on memory. These drugs alter basic body functions not only in the blood vessels but also in the nervous system and kidneys as well. They cause memory problems by interfering with the action of key chemical messengers in the brain.
The loss of memory and some cognitive changes effects a loss of appetite in older individuals. This puts elderly individuals at higher risk for depression, anorexia, and weight loss. Your practitioner can weigh the pros and cons of each type of medication and might choose the viable option for you in order to avoid the side effects. Avoiding overmedication and making lifestyle changes to maintain your blood pressure can improve your condition more naturally.7
5. Other Drugs And Medications
Memory loss can be the combined effect of medications that are prescribed to treat your medical conditions. For instance, medication for the heart, for high blood pressure and for asthma can interrupt the cognitive function and cause changes.
A possible method to increase the memory function is to decrease the dosages of these drugs and try to find the drug that has a toxic effect on the brain’s function. The medical practitioner would then cut off the drug that can be dispensed with, finding an alternative medication for the condition and substitute others at lower dosages to treat the medical conditions that require therapy.
Antiemetics and seasickness medications like scopolamine can have a negative effect on memory and other intellectual functions. Any drug used to treat nausea or vertigo, and especially seasickness may have the tendency to adversely affect memory function. Some of the other drugs that can impair memory include Digitalis preparations, drugs to relieve severe pain and drugs that are prescribed to treat high blood glucose levels. Eye drops for glaucoma and even gastrointestinal drugs like cimetidine may produce a loss of memory and interfere with other intellectual functions.8
The proactive measure that you can follow to avoid drug-induced impairment of your mind or memory is to question your doctor carefully every time a new drug is prescribed or the dose is changed for the medication you are already taking. Always keep in mind that it is your life and brain function that is at stake, the impairment of which can cause a decline in quality of your life. So, make yourself aware of the medications that you are taking and promptly report any symptoms that you are not comfortable with in day to day life after starting the medication course.
|↑1||DK. “Human Body A Children’s Encyclopedia.” Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 2012.|
|↑2||Budson, Andrew E., and Paul R. Solomon. Memory Loss, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Dementia E-Book: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015.|
|↑3||Devi, Gayatri, and Deborah Mitchell. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About (TM) Alzheimer’s Disease: The Complete Guide to Preventing, Treating, and Coping with Memory Loss. Grand Central Publishing, 2007.|
|↑4||Budson, Andrew E., and Paul R. Solomon. Memory Loss E-Book: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2011.|
|↑5||Turner, Francis J. Adult Psychopathology, Second Edition: A Social Work Perspective. Simon and Schuster, 1999.|
|↑6||Leviton, Richard. Brain Builders!: A Lifelong Guide to Sharper Thinking, Better Memory, and an Age-Proof Mind. Penguin, 1995.|
|↑7||Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie. 20/20 Thinking: 1,000 Powerful Strategies to Sharpen Your Mind, Brighten Your Mood, and Boost Your Memory. Penguin, 2003.|
|↑8||Mark, Vernon H., and J. Paul Mark. Reversing memory loss: Proven methods for regaining, strengthening, and preserving your memory. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.|