What prescription drugs can cause the side effect of amnesia?

Any drugs that help you sleep or relax could cause amnesia.  These include sleep aids like Ambien (zolpidem) or anxiety medications like Valium (diazepam).  Valium is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines, and other drugs like it include Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam).  A strange phenomenon that has occurred with benzodiazepines is called anterograde amnesia where you can't make new memories after you take the drug for a period of time.  It doesn't appear to be related to the dose--it seems some people just react that way to the drugs. 

Some users of Mirapex (generic name prampipexole) experience amnesia as a side effect from the drug. Mirapex was developed in 1997 to control the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The medication is also prescribed for people with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).

Some patients using Mirapex reported short-term memory loss, for example, not recalling what they did the previous day. Stopping the medication seemed to resolve the problem.

Amnesia can also happen to patients using statins, which is a class of drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol. Former astronaut Duane Graveline reported going for a short walk and then not recognizing his wife, while he was taking Lipitor. After that, he lost memories of all events after his high school graduation. The good news is that the memory loss he experienced was only temporary.

Some researchers theorize that the statins may be almost too effective-blocking the cholesterol that is necessary for neurological function. Despite those concerns, however, they believe the benefits of statins such as Lipitor outweigh the potential risks.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.