Cognitive HealthMedicine Side Effects

Are your medicines causing memory problems?

Medicines and Memory

Some medicines cause memory and cognitive problems. Do you recognize the medicines used to treat the problems listed below?

Parkinson’s Medicine

Dopamine Medicines- Used to treat all movement symptoms associated with PD, these medicines can worsen cognition in some patients. Different people will react  differently to each medicine but the following class of medicines has a greater risk:

  • Dopamine Agonists- Ropinirole (Requip), Pramipexole (Mirapex) and Rotigotine (Neupro)
  • Amantadine

Anticholinergic Medicines- These anti-tremor and dystonia medicines are used less  frequently due their cognitive side effects.

  • Trihexyphenidyl (Artane), Benztropine (Cogentin)

Tremor Medicines

Parkinson’s tremor

  • Trihexyphenidyl (Artane), Benztropine (Cogentin)

Essential and other forms of tremor

  • Anti-seizure medicines primidone (mysoline), gabapentin (Neurontin) and topiramate(Topamax)
  • Benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam (Klonopin),diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Artane)

Restless Leg Medicine

  • Dopamine Agonists- Ropinirole (Requip), Pramipexole (Mirapex) and Rotigotine (Neupro)

  • Anti-seizure medicine gabapentin (Neurontin)

  • Benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam (Klonopin)

  • Pain medicine Pregabalin (Lyrica)

Sleep Aids

Sleep medicines, or sedatives, can cause daytime grogginess and confusion. Examples of common sleep aids include:

  • Zolpiden (Ambien), Zaleplon (Sonata) and Eszopiclone (Lunesta) – The FDA recently recommended using lower doses of these medicines due to these problems.

  • Diphenhydramine (Benedryl, Tylenol PM, many allergy preparations) – Yes even over the counter medicines carry risk of cognitive problems.

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin) and other benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Artane) – These medicines are used for their sedating effect or REM Sleep disorder (Clonazepam).


  • All narcotics such as Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin), Vicodin (hydrocodone), Morphine, Tramadol (Ultram) carry high risk of confusion and related cognitive problems.

  • Anti-seizure medicines gabapentin (Neurontin) and topiramate (Topamax) and antidepressant amitriptyline are examples of medicines used for chronic pain and migraine.


  • Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Artane) – These medicines are used for their anti-anxiety effects.

  • Alcohol and medical marijuana can cause long acting memory problems


Tricyclic antidepressants such as mirtazapine (Remeron) amitriptyline, nortriptyline commonly used for sleep, pain and mood problems can worsen cognition

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants such are sometimes used to treat back and neck pain, muscle spasm and spasticity from conditions like stroke, MS and brain injury, rigidity and dystonia. Examples include:

  • Benzodiazepines

  • Baclofen (Lioresol), Tizanadine (Zanaflex), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril),metaxalone (Skelaxin)

Bladder Medicines

There are different types of medicines designed to treat different types of bladder medicines. In general, medicines designed to treat overactive medicines can cause cognitive changes.

  • Oxybutynin (Ditropan) , solifenacin (Vesicare), Detrol (Tolterodine), Fesoterodine (Toviaz)


Medications such as patches, pills and drops are sometimes used for drooling but can cause cognitive and memory problems

  • Tricyclic antidepressants – imipramine and amitriptyline

  • Glycopyrrolate (Robinul)

  • Scopolamine

  • Atropine drops


  • Anti-vertigo or motion sickness medicine meclizine (Antivert), scopolamine and the antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can cause sedation and cognitive slowing.


  • Migraine medicines such as amitriptyline (Elavil), topiramate (Topamax), cyproheptadine (Periactin) cause cognitive problems.

 Antihistamine (allergy and cold medicines)

Antihistamines used for allergies and nasal congestion can cause memory problems if used for an extended period of time. Examples include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), hydroxyzine (Atarax), and cyproheptadine (Periactin). Be sure to read the labels when buying cold medicines that contain many ingredients.

Do not stop or change medicines without discussing with your healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing cognitive problems as there are treatments available.

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