The benzodiazapine drug known as alprazolam is commonly sold under the trade name of Xanax, and it is often prescribed for anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. In addition to stress-reducing effects, Xanax also has sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant effects. Some of these properties may be mediated indirectly by affecting memory systems. In fact, alprazolam induces anterograde amnesia, promotes retrograde amnesia, changes risk taking and enhances memory gain.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Alprazolam is often associated with anterograde short-term memory loss for events that occur after taking the drug, in both human and nonhuman models. A respected study published in the November 1994 issue of "Psychological Medicine" illustrates these effects 5. Memory was assessed objectively and researchers found that Alprazolam caused impairments on a word recall task, and these lasted up to four months after stopping the drug. It did not, however, affect performance on an implicit memory or digit span task. Subjective measures of memory were more effected than objective measures. Alprazolam-induced anterograde amnesia is usually considered to be transient, yet those results suggested otherwise. A follow-up study, published in the January 1999 issue of "Psychological Medicine" revealed that the previous results were not effects of alprazolam, but were from the drug's interaction with practice effects on the tests used and the anxiety over repeated exposure to the test protocol 15.
Anti-anxiety Medications That Cause Weight Loss
The effects of alprazolam on retrograde amnesia are less clear, yet they are likely present as well. A study in the January 1998 issue of "Pharmacology" demonstrated retrograde amnesia in rats given alprazolam 2. Similar results were published in the August 2007 issue of "Behavioural Brain Research" using a related chemical, brotizolam. These data may be replicated in human studies and thereby support the more commonly obtained benzodiapine-induced anterograde amnesia.
- The effects of alprazolam on retrograde amnesia are less clear, yet they are likely present as well.
- A study in the January 1998 issue of "Pharmacology" demonstrated retrograde amnesia in rats given alprazolam 2.
A study in the May 2006 issue of "Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology" looked at a different aspect of alprazolam: its ability to reduce anxiety during simulated risk taking 7. The key measures in this study were responsiveness to rewards and losses, rate of updating expectancies about the value of risky alternatives -- learning/memory -- and consistency with which trial-by-trial choices match expected outcomes. The authors found that alprazolam produced increases in risk taking that were related to learning/memory but not motivation.
Side Effects of Quitting Smoking Marijuana
Time of day may play an important role in the effects of alprazolam on memory. A study in the October 1998 issue of the "Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology" showed that alprazolam can, under some circumstances, enhance memory gain 4. A total of 64 subjects, in two groups, were given either a drug or placebo twice a day for 14 days. A salient increase in performance was indicated after drug administration in the alprazolam group compared with the control group results. Because the drug was administered at two different clock times, this study differs in protocol and results suggesting that a relationship between the two factors may explain the aberrant results.
- Time of day may play an important role in the effects of alprazolam on memory.
- A salient increase in performance was indicated after drug administration in the alprazolam group compared with the control group results.
Anti-anxiety Medications That Cause Weight Loss
Side Effects of Quitting Smoking Marijuana
Cymbalta's Side Effects on Sleeping
Factors Affecting Reliability in Psychological Tests
Factors Encouraging Drug Abuse
Ambien Vs. Xanax For Sleeping
Can I Take 5-HTP With Effexor?
What Happens If Alcohol Is Taken With Tramadol HCL?
What Are the Effects of Taking 1200 mg of Neurontin?
Drugs That Affect a Lie Detector Test
- Psychological Medicine: Memory functions, Alprazolam and Exposure Therapy
- Pharmacology: Possible Mechanism of Alprazolam-Induced Amnesia in Mice
- Psychopharmacology: Acute Effects of Alcohol on Feedback Processing and Outcome Evaluation During Risky Decision-Making: an ERP Study
- Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: Alprazolam 0.125 Mg Twice a Day Improves Aspects of Psychometric Performance in Healthy Volunteers
- Psychological Medicine: Long-term effects of alprazolam
- Behavioural Brain Research: Sustained Inhibition of Brotizolam Induced Anterograde Amnesia by Norharmane and Retrograde Amnesia by L-Glutamic Acid in Mice
- Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology”; Application of a Computational Decision Model to Examine Acute Drug Effects on Human Risk Taking
- Allen RJ. Classic and recent advances in understanding amnesia. F1000Res. 2018;7:331. doi:10.12688/f1000research.13737.1
- Csábi E, Benedek P, Janacsek K, Zavecz Z, Katona G, Nemeth D. Declarative and non-declarative memory consolidation in children with sleep disorder. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015;9:709. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00709
- Brown TI, Rissman J, Chow TE, Uncapher MR, Wagner AD. Differential medial temporal lobe and parietal cortical contributions to real-world autobiographical episodic and autobiographical semantic memory. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):6190.
- Lee AC, Yeung LK, Barense MD. The hippocampus and visual perception. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012;6:91. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00091
- Pluck G, Bravo Mancero P, Maldonado Gavilanez CE, et al. Modulation of striatum based non-declarative and medial temporal lobe based declarative memory predicts academic achievement at university level. Trends Neurosci Educ. 2019;14:1-10. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2018.11.002
- Dewar M, Della Sala S, Beschin N, Cowan N. Profound retroactive interference in anterograde amnesia: what interferes? Neuropsychology. 2010;24(3):357–367. doi:10.1037/a0018207
- Park YM, Shin HW. Zolpidem Induced sleep-related eating and complex behaviors in a patient with obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2016;14(3):299–301. doi:10.9758/cpn.2016.14.3.299
- Marshman LAG, Hennessy M, Delle Baite L, Britton G. Utility of retrograde amnesia assessment alone, compared with anterograde amnesia assessment in determining recovery after traumatic brain injury: prospective cohort study. World Neurosurg. 2018;110:e830-e834. doi:10.1016/j.wneu.2017.11.131
- Marinkovic I, Lyytinen J, Valanne L, Niinikuru R, Pekkonen E. Bilateral hippocampal infarction as etiology of sudden and prolonged memory loss. Case Rep Neurol. 2012;4(3):207–211. doi:10.1159/000345564
- Fama R, Pitel AL, Sullivan EV. Anterograde episodic memory in Korsakoff syndrome. Neuropsychol Rev. 2012;22(2):93–104. doi:10.1007/s11065-012-9207-0
- Boere E, Kamperman AM, van 't Hoog AE, van den Broek WW, Birkenhäger TK. Anterograde amnesia during electroconvulsive therapy: a prospective pilot-study in patients with major depressive disorder. PLoS One. 2016;11(10):e0165392. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165392
- Little D, Nagele E, Gallagher M, Weston M. What day is today? A case of a patient who developed significant anterograde amnesia with abnormal signal intensity in the medial temporal lobes on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the setting of substance abuse. (P1.199). Neurology. 2018;90(15 Suppl.)
- Sousa NMF. Rehabilitation in severe memory deficit: a case study. Dement Neuropsychol. 2017;11(2):213-216. doi:10.1590/1980-57642016dn11-020016
- Warren DE, Duff MC, Magnotta V, Capizzano AA, Cassell MD, Tranel D. Long-term neuropsychological, neuroanatomical, and life outcome in hippocampal amnesia. Clin Neuropsychol. 2012;26(2):335–369. doi:10.1080/13854046.2012.655781
- Cavaco S, Feinstein JS, van Twillert H, Tranel D. Musical memory in a patient with severe anterograde amnesia. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2012;34(10):1089–1100. doi:10.1080/13803395.2012.728568
- Michel A. Countering 'neuromyths' in the movies. Observer. 2015;28(3).
- Duff MC, Wszalek T, Tranel D, Cohen NJ. Successful life outcome and management of real-world memory demands despite profound anterograde amnesia. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2008;30(8):931–945. doi:10.1080/13803390801894681
- Nikitin VP, Solntseva SV, Kozyrev SA. Anterograde amnesia induced by disruption of consolidation or reconsolidation of long-term memory. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2017; 164(1):1–5. doi:10.1007/s10517-017-3912-x
- Smith CN, Frascino JC, Hopkins RO, Squire LR. The nature of anterograde and retrograde memory impairment after damage to the medial temporal lobe. Neuropsychologia. 2013;51(13):2709-2714. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.09.015
- Talmi D, Caplan JB, Richards B, Moscovitch M. Long-term recency in anterograde amnesia. PLoS One. 2015;10(6):e0124084. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124084
Tomas Linnaeus is a psychologist, scientist and activist. Extensively trained in neuroscience, he has been published in professional journals like "Physiology and Behavior," "Journal of Sleep Research" and "Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews." Linnaeus has been writing for over 25 years and received a doctoral degree in psychology from Bowling Green State University.