What are the Different Types of Memory Loss Drugs?

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  • Written By: C. Stoliecki
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Memory loss can be caused by a variety of factors, including diseases such as Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia and even depression. Each of these conditions affects memory loss in a different way. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease affects short-term memory, and other forms of dementia are known to affect working memory. There are several types of memory loss drugs that are created to treat the many possible causes and varieties of memory loss. These classes of drugs include acetylcholine stimulants, glutamate down regulators, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and dopamine reuptake inhibitors.

Acetylcholine stimulants are one class of memory loss drugs that are used to treat the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease. In general, Alzheimer’s disease has been shown to deplete the natural levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in those affected, resulting in memory loss. By regulating the acetylcholine levels in the brain, these drugs work to slow the progression of the disease. Examples of this class of drugs include donepezil, tacrine and galantamine.

Another important neurotransmitter is glutamate, a neurotransmitter is integral in protecting neural activity. A class of memory loss drugs known as glutamate down regulators act to stabilize the glutamate levels in the human brain. As a result, they help preserve neurons and stave off memory loss. Drugs in this class are used to treat memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, trauma and stroke. Memantine is one example of a glutamate down regulator.


Memory loss stemming from a stroke is often treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Typically used to treat depression and anxiety, these memory loss drugs work by generating fresh neurons in the particular location of the brain where memory loss occurs. One example of a serotonin reuptake inhibitor is escitalopram.

When the human brain suffers from low levels of dopamine, memory loss often occurs. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with low dopamine levels in the brain, and as a result, those with this disorder suffer memory loss in many cases. Dopamine reuptake inhibitors increase the level of dopamine in the brain by preventing the protein that absorbs dopamine from working, leaving higher levels of dopamine in the brain. Methylphenidate is one drug that increases dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area known to be associated with memory.

Before settling on one class of drug to treat memory loss, one should consult with his or her doctor. Only a medical professional can determine the causes and appropriate method of treatment for those experiencing any type of memory loss. Self-medication of memory loss might not be beneficial and could even be harmful.


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