Memory is defined as the ability to store, retain, and recall information. The human memory system is divided into the following three components: short-term memory, allowing recall for a period of several seconds to 1 min without rehearsal (one form is working memory); long-term explicit memory, concerning facts taken out of context (semantic memory) and concerning information specific to a particular context, such as time and place (episodic memory); and finally, implicit memory or procedural memory, based on implicit learning.
Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression. A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can also interfere with or cause loss of memory. In this article, we shall be looking at the relationship between Xanax and memory loss.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is a brand of alprazolam, a powerful benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. The medication comes in the form of a tablet that quickly dissolves in the mouth, an extended-release tablet, or a concentrated oral solution.
Benzodiazepines can have therapeutic anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, muscle relaxing, and sedative effects. Xanax works by increasing the effects of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which promotes calmness and produces a relaxed feeling. The drug decreases the level of excitement in the brain to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
Alprazolam is among the most prescribed benzodiazepine drugs in the U.S. and is among the benzodiazepines most often found in the illegal market, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Xanax is often prescribed for mental health disorders related to anxiety. It can be used to treat general anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias. It can also be used to treat seizures. For people who suffer from anxiety, it can create a sense of relief to focus on their lives without issues of anxiety or phobias plaguing them. When used as prescribed, it can calm people down and make them feel relaxed.
Xanax can also reduce physiological symptoms of anxiety and fear, such as a racing heart or hyperventilation. These drugs are so often prescribed because they work well on anxiety and they’re cheap.
However, many people use Xanax for nonmedical reasons, taking it in larger doses or more frequently than prescribed because it can create a euphoric feeling, especially at higher doses. Xanax tends to start acting quickly after a person takes it, and the euphoric effects of the drug will usually manifest themselves within about an hour after taking it.
A tendency has grown in some social circles to view Xanax, as a type of “alcohol” in pill form. It’s become socially acceptable among these groups of friends to get together and share Xanax with one another. Of the 30.5 million people who used benzos in 2015, 17.1% misused them. Misusing Xanax or combining it with other substances like alcohol can amplify its effects, but the results can also be deadly.
Along with recreational use, many people rely on Xanax to deal with issues like situational anxiety without having to commit to therapy, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Xanax is popular in America, for example, because there is a tendency for people to love things that are looked at as a quick fix. Xanax isn’t a long-term medication, so some people “take it when they need it” for relief. The temporary relief they feel can help in a fast-paced world with constant exposure to negative world news, stressful jobs, and uncertainty.
Can Xanax cause memory loss?
Yes, taking Xanax can cause a type of memory loss known as anterograde amnesia. This type of memory loss occurs when you can’t form new memories. In the most extreme cases, this means you permanently lose the ability to learn or retain any new information.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax are complex drugs that interact with neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA. They cause an increase in serotonin and dopamine levels, while also increasing GABA activity.
GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, is believed to play an important role in memory – it slows down the rate at which neurons fire, preventing overstimulation. Altered levels of GABA have been reported in depression, anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, and normal aging.
If you suspect your memory loss is caused by Xanax, talk with your doctor about your side effects. Do not stop taking the medicine until you have spoken with your doctor.
Use caution with alternative therapies. Some alternative therapies may cause memory loss. Talk to your doctor about any alternative therapies you are using when taking Xanax.
Is memory loss from Xanax reversible?
Yes, memory loss from Xanax is reversible with treatment in some patients. In many cases, memory loss from Xanax may resolve with simple a change in medication. Nutritional supplements can also be useful against Xanax-induced memory loss.
Can Xanax cause paralysis?
Yes, several patients have complained of having episodes of sleep paralysis or very deep sleep every time they take Xanax. Xanax can also make sleep worse if you become dependent on the drug.
• Do not use this medicine if you are also using ketoconazole or itraconazole.
• Some foods and medicines can affect how alprazolam works. Tell your doctor if you are using any of the following: Amiodarone, carbamazepine, clarithromycin, cimetidine, cyclosporine, desipramine, diltiazem, ergotamine, erythromycin, fluconazole, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, imipramine, isoniazid, nefazodone, nicardipine, nifedipine, paroxetine, propoxyphene, sertraline, or theophyllineBirth control pillsSeizure medicine
• Tell your doctor if you use anything else that makes you sleepy. Some examples are allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, and alcohol.
• Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.
• Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.
• Do not stop using this medicine suddenly. Your doctor will need to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely.
• Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.