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TCAs are thought to cause memory problems by blocking the action of serotonin and norepinephrine — two of the brain's key chemical messengers.
Alternatives: Talk with your health care provider about whether nondrug therapies might work just as well or better for you than a drug.
Many patients with chronic nerve pain find that venlafaxine (Effexor) — which also spares memory — alleviates their pain.
Why they are prescribed: TCAs are prescribed for depression and, increasingly, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, smoking cessation and some hormone-mediated disorders, such as severe menstrual cramps and hot flashes.
Examples: Acetazolamide (Diamox), carbamazepine (Tegretol), ezogabine (Potiga), gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), levetiracetam (Keppra), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), pregabalin (Lyrica), rufinamide (Banzel), topiramate (Topamax), valproic acid (Depakote) and zonisamide (Zonegran).
How they can cause memory loss: Anticonvulsants are believed to limit seizures by dampening the flow of signals within the central nervous system (CNS).
Alternatives: Many patients with seizures do well on phenytoin (Dilantin), which has little if any impact on memory.Alternatives: In patients under the age of 50 years, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the frontline therapy for pain.Unfortunately, NSAID therapy is less appropriate for older patients, who have a much higher risk of dangerous gastrointestinal bleeding.But what many people don't realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Why they are prescribed: Benzodiazepines are used to treat a variety of anxiety disorders, agitation, delirium and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures. If you have insomnia, for instance, melatonin might help.
Because benzodiazepines have a sedative effect, they are sometimes used to treat insomnia and the anxiety that can accompany depression. Taken before bedtime in doses from 3 to 10 mg, melatonin can help to reestablish healthy sleep patterns.Why they are prescribed: Also called opioid analgesics, these medications are used to relieve moderate to severe chronic pain, such as the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.