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Is There a Connection between Sertraline and Memory Loss?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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There is a small connection between sertraline and memory loss, according to the reported side effects of the treatment, although this reaction seems to be quite rare. Any patient who experiences memory loss after taking sertraline should discuss it with a medical professional. More common side effects include nausea and insomnia, although many other rare side effects exist. Memory loss is rarely connected to sertraline, so it could be indicative of a very negative reaction to the treatment.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drug primarily designed to combat depression in patients. Sertraline also can be prescribed for other conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, but it primarily is used as an anti-depressant. The drug works by preventing nerves that release the neurotransmitter serotonin from taking it back up again right away. Many medical professionals believe that an imbalance in the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters within the brain is the cause of depression, and by preventing its reuptake, there is believed to be more available to stimulate other nerves in the brain. This should result in an overall improvement in the mood of the patient.

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Sertraline and memory loss are linked through the long list of possible side effects of the treatment. Common side effects caused by sertraline include insomnia, dizziness, and decreased libido, and these side effects should be reported to a medical professional only if they are particularly persistent or severe. One of the most common side effects, insomnia, is reported in about 30% of patients. Less common side effects are likely to be more serious, and these include decreased concentration or coordination, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks. Memory loss is on the list of rare and possibly serious side effects.

Clinical trials have studied the effects of sertraline and determined the chances of side effects occurring in patients. These trials have shown nausea, diarrhea, and insomnia to be among the most likely side effects but haven’t recognized a link between sertraline and memory loss. The least-likely side effect reported in clinical trials is the decreased libido, occurring in about 1% of patients. Some patients have reported memory loss, but studies indicate that the likelihood of it occurring are less than 1%.

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anon995052
Post 4

I was prescribed Sertraline and I did feel it did help me with my depression and I was able to concentrate on tasks. After a few months I of taking it I noticed I would forget to make payments, or double pay bills. I finally decided to call my doctor when I could not recognize some of my co-workers. At the time I was only 30 years old. I stopped taking the meds, but my memory is still horrible.

literally45
Post 3

@fify- I don't agree with you. I've been taking sertraline for more than two years but it started affecting my memory three months after I began taking it. So I don't think the time frame has anything to do with it. But my memory seems to be getting worse and worse. I can't remember where I put things, I can't remember errands and I have the hardest time with names and phone numbers.

I need to switch to another medication. It's a shame because it has been great for my anxiety and depression symptoms.

fify
Post 2

@turquoise-- You should ask your doctor about it but I think it would take at least several years of taking sertraline, and probably at high doses for it to affect your memory. And that too doesn't happen to everyone.

turquoise
Post 1

My doctor prescribed sertraline for me last week. So far, I don't seem to be having any major side effects to it, just some headaches and nausea.

How long does it take for sertraline to cause memory loss? My doctor said that I will be taking this drug for at least six months and then we'll go from there. Will the medication affect my memory in this time frame?

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