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Avatar universal

short term memory loss from long term Ambien use?

My husband and I are in some trouble.  He is a physician, (53 years old)  and was just given 2 weeks "medical leave" because people were noticing he was forgetting things.  His short term memory is impaired.  We have already seen the neurologist, then we see the psychiatrist Tuesday.  He has been taking 10 mg of Ambien nightly for maybe 8 YEARS, has been down to taking 5 mg for about a year.  He has been taken off the Ambien, but what are the long term effects?  I find alot of info on short term effects, but could his memory issues be due to AMBIEN?
Please help.  
109 Responses
685562 tn?1447158831
WOW, Im really surprised that your Husband does not know the direct effects of Ambien
I say direct  effects, because the term "side effects" is a bunch of nonsence that was made up to make people less afraid to take a medicine.

Ambein is like a "cousin" to the Benzodiazapine group, that effects to the CNS, Cognitive functioning, and behavior are close to eachother. Its called a "Zdrug"

Ambein is addictive just like Benzos, and if your Husbands been on it for 8 years, then tapered down to 5mgs, now just quit, he is probably going through some sort of withdraw.

Did his memory loss come after he was taken off of it? or did it start happening while he was still taking it?
How long has his memory been going for? Has it been gradually decreasing or did it just "go"?
Avatar universal
He's only been off for 2 days.  We think the memory loss goes back years, but didn't become an 'issue' until we did a lifestyle change (moving to a new area).  He has developed anxiety which we think is secondary to the short-term memory loss.  We think the memory loss has increased, but it's kind of mixed up with the anxiety.  We HOPE the memory loss is directly related to the Ambien, and being off of it will he return to 'normal'?  We can deal with the anxiety, but not the memory loss.  
Kelley, I am experiencing memory loss myself and was concerned that I might be developing early-onset Alheimers.  I, too, have been on Ambien off and on for well over a decade, but regularly for the past three or four years at the 10MG level.  Have you seen any reversal?
685562 tn?1447158831
You say "we can deal with it" and Im happy to hear that your there for him.
But, when it comes down to it.....can he deal with it?
Its hard sometimes, depending on the severity of the anxiety,

The memory loss could be caused by the anxiety as well, but Im sure the Ambein has a "role" in it mainly.
It can take a long time for a persons "mind" to return to normal, and heal, sense it is the most complex organ in the body, it can effect everything in you body "as Im sure you know"
The memory loss should return in time, but with the anxiety state that your husband is in, it might take a little longer then "normal"
What else does your husband go through. I assume trouble sleeping, but does he ever tremble, have a weird feeling of being detatched or in a "dream state", stomach or muscle pain, headaches, drymouth, etc?
585414 tn?1288944902
If he took it every day then he will definitely get some withdrawal symptoms. Ambien is generally not meant for every day long term use as a sleep aide. It can be addictive. Rozerem is a much safer option which is non addictive and works exactly like melatonin to adjust the sleep cycle. You can't determine long term side effects from a medication after two days. The body takes a while to adjust. They are always rebound symptoms as well. I think the best way to find out the side effect potential of Ambien is to go to the medication website. Every side effect that occured, even if just in one person must be reported to the FDA and listed there. Don't assume he has long term side effects listed under "rare or infrequent" but do ask the neurologist if they are listed and he is experiencing them. And you could ask about Rozerem if he still has insomnia.
Avatar universal
HI Im not sure how I came to find this site today. Your post is directly related in some case to my own. I was taking ambien last year and did a number of things in my sleep which I dont care to mention, and not remmeber the next day. In short, I tapered myself off ambien, and experience a daily dose of confusion, and memory loss. Its so embarrassing. My fiance constantly looks at me like I am crazy, for not being able to recall something from the day before, and etc. I really hope someone does something to remove this drug from our shelfs. I was fine before this. I am always scared of doing someting that I may not recover from. I forget very important tasks lately, and its causing a strain on my relationship. Good luck to you.

Lost in OK.  
Avatar universal
I took ambien for about 5 days a week for 6 months. I have been off it for over 2 months and I still have short-term memory loss. It's not terrible but it affects my daily life and has become a problem with school. After taking the drug I forgot entire conversations with people and said and did things that were not like me.. for ex. give my number out to my boyfriends friends. I am really hoping that eventually my short term memory will go back to what it used to be. Going on my experience and from what I have read online if your husband was on it for 8 years he may have this problem for a few months. Hopefully since he it is off it now he will see improvements.
Avatar universal
well it sounds like everyone has said pretty much everything that needs to be said. i knew ambien was not intended to be used on a regular basis...but i had no idea so many people have short term memory loss from it....and just in this forum alone. that's a scary thought when you look at how many scripts are written for it and how many people actually do take it every night.

i hope your husband gets better...but just out of curiosity, didn't he know the risks since he is a physician? i guess it doesn't matter whether he did or not, though. i know the risks of all the meds i take...but i take them anyway, so i can't assume doctors are much different.
Avatar universal
I'm coming to this thread pretty late, but figured I'd describe my experience here, as it sounds like it's similar to others', so might be helpful in helping other people sort out what's going on with their own memory loss issues.

I've been on Ambien for about 8-9 months now, and have been having some significant memory issues: Longer-term, not just the "I took Ambien and didn't remember what I did last night." I've had one incident of that sort, but what's had me more concerned is that I've had trouble remembering things that took place further in the past, anywhere from weeks to years; going back well before I ever had Ambien.

The thing is, it's not clear to me whether it's Ambien that's causing the memory issues, or a chronic lack of sleep, prolonged high stress, or all three. I know from a prior experience that high stress can wipe out my memory, and I've also read a lot about chronic short sleep causing significant memory problems as well. I've been under a lot of  job-related stress this year as a result of the economic downturn, and have also been averaging perhaps 6 hours of sleep/night. Either of these factors could explain memory problems, and I have a friend with similar issues (he said he's averaging maybe 5 - 5 1/2 hours/night of sleep), and he doesn't take Ambien.

Ambien is the one drug I've found that lets me get to sleep when I'm stressed (believe me, I've tried about everything out there), so I don't know how I'd be able to give it up.

The obvious solution to sort this out is for me to make a concerted effort to get more sleep, and also try to reduce the job-related stress. I'm working on both fronts, but haven't made enough progress on either to be able to draw any conclusions yet.

I don't mean to be an apologist for Ambien, as I do have strong misgivings about it. That said, though, I think it could well be the case that some of the very stress factors that lead people to take Ambien could in and of themselves account for some level of memory loss.
Avatar universal
I have been experiencing severe memory loss and I am uncertain if it is the ambien causing it.  Aftre reading these replies I'm pretty comfortable for assuming it is the cause (though I'm not a DR).  I having memory loss even if I am not taking at that moment but I have taken the day before.  Anywhere from a phone call I had made, mowing the lawn or even hosting my 7yr olds birthday party (50people) and I only have a small recollection the next day.  I see pictures I'm posing for and I look perfectly fine.  I never thought it could be the ambien because again, I was not taking it the moment I was performing these actions.  

  Very scary and deppressing..so I would suggest to anyone having these issues to consult with your doctor if having similar issues as I'm going to do the same.
Avatar universal
I have been experiencing severe memory loss and I am uncertain if it is the ambien causing it.  Aftre reading these replies I'm pretty comfortable for assuming it is the cause (though I'm not a DR).  I having memory loss even if I am not taking at that moment but I have taken the day before.  Anywhere from a phone call I had made, mowing the lawn or even hosting my 7yr olds birthday party (50people) and I only have a small recollection the next day.  I see pictures I'm posing for and I look perfectly fine.  I never thought it could be the ambien because again, I was not taking it the moment I was performing these actions.  

  Very scary and deppressing..so I would suggest to anyone having these issues to consult with your doctor if having similar issues as I'm going to do the same.
Avatar universal
I have been taking Ambien as well as I work the graveyard shift and have found it works very well for me BUT I have some short term memory problems that are a bit different.  I forget people's names at times (including my co-workers sometimes!), forget how to do certain tasks for a moment or two and have trouble sometimes putting my ideas into cohesive explanations, especially under stressful conditions.  Like if my boss is in a bad mood, he wants answers NOW, and I draw a complete blank and need at least a minute or so to formulate my thoughts into a sentence.  I suppose some of this is obvious stress but it appears to be much worse lately, even when I have a great night's sleep.  I honestly believe it is the Ambien because it was never like this before I started on this medication.
Avatar universal
I came to this blog after browsing the Internet for Ambien memory loss. I have experienced all: forgetting names, conversations, etc, and it is getting worse. I actually have been trying to reduce the dose, so I never take a full ambien pill. I cut it in pieces, so at night I get a third of a 10 mg pill, then I get awake 2 or 3 hours later and then take another small piece. Either way I am having trouble not only with the memory loss but also getting my thoughts together. Any recommendation on how to get ride of it without going to another sleeping pill?
Avatar universal
I was on ambien CR, 10mg 7 days a week. While ambien had that "I just took it, now I'm talking to my wall about the meaning of life" effect, or the "I just drove to a girl's house, had sex with her and I don't remember" effect, or even the "Oh my gosh I sent a picture of my penis via text message to my friend last night?" effect, I am still having issues with short term memory loss. Now that I am in college, it is really starting to put a strain on me, where as before I just was waiting for my brain to return to 'normal' memory function. I have been off of ambien for quite some time now, I think 10 months now, and I STILL have issues with short term memory. Please, class action lawsuit. The Dr. told me this was non addictive, which is why I went on it instead of the zanax he thought about giving me (I said no because kids did that crap in my school for fun). Another instance in college now, I will leave my dorm ready to go to class, and be looking for something, and return to my room. I will return to my room about 3 times before I get it right as to what I was forgetting, and why I'm there. The other day, I went to go pee, and my room mate said to me "dude, you just went, don't you remember?"- to which I respond, "that must make sense, because I don't feel like I have to pee any more". I'd get into fights with mom about things she told me ten minutes before to which I would SWEAR that she had never told me. Overall, I'm rambling, and my point is- someone sue the hell out of the maker in a class action lawsuit, because I used to be able to memorize even the most complex of tasks, and now I can't even form a cohesive strategy to solve a multi step issue, or put my thoughts together on the spot when dealing with a difficult question from an angry boss (and I used to speak publicly on the spot).
Avatar universal
Things I can't remember, or have difficulty with; insight onto my issue that others may relate to:

-Conversations and details within them even minutes after
-Appointments, after being told about the appointment that day
-Issues with Cohesive thought
-Learning, due to memory issues
-Cognitive thought
-People's names (still don't know who that guy is that talks to me every day in class for 3 weeks now, and whom I have meals with, and I'm aware I've asked him multiple times [he is aware of my issues])
-Important events (EX: I don't remember meeting my girlfriend's grand parents, even though I was with them for 2 whole days, and have apparently "re-met" them a couple of times)

-Insignificant events ("we hung out?", "when did we get lunch?", "we've already met??")
-Schedules (in my case, class schedules- which day which class, what time and where)

-Repitition of conversation (I often ask the same detail-oriented questions to the same people, or find myself telling the same stories to the same people, when I have told them within 24 hrs).
-Memorizational skills of basic information

+that's all I can put togetehr that troubles me- it feels as though I have alzheimer's at 18 (sad way to live). Personally, I used to have the best memory and could tell you what you were wearing, what song was playing in the room, the exact layout of your room, and exactly what we talked about in chronological order. I feel that the ambien has affected my short term memory capabilites from the prescription initiation for future events more severely than it has on my previously held memories- although I do notice a very detrimental erosion of past events before my ambien dosages began.

Sue Ambien, they do NOT tell you about this sort of effect, and neither will your doctor. You will NOT find this sort of information on any write up about ambien- only from us who have been so unlucky as to have began taking it- and can speak from personal experience on forums or to friends and family (although we probably won't remember telling you).
Avatar universal
I've been on Ambien for 5 years and have been experiencing the exact problems you are experiencing.  I also have what my neurologist says is sudo-dimentia.  I'll go to brush my teeth and forget what goes on the toothbrush, brushing my teeth with soap a couple of times was not pleasant.  Also, not being able to remember things that I do everyday.  I don't remember even the names of my children when I am having a conversation about them.  I've had insomnia since I was a child, coupled with severe anxiety.  I take an antidepressant and Ativan for anxiety and depression.  None of the psychiatrists or doctors I have seen have ever told me to go off Ambien.  
Avatar universal
I have taken Ambien, 10 mg, nightly for probably around two years.  (Was unable to sleep due to chronic pain.)  Ambien has been fantastic from a sleep perspective, but I too have had substantial memory loss and retention problems since I've been taking it.  I am an ultrasound tech, have been for more than 6 yrs., and have been noticing difficulty in remembering daily terminology, retrieving the right word for something I need to share with one of our doctors, etc.  Similar issues at home, unable to remember discussions with my husband, etc.  I have decided to stop the Ambien completely.  I can tell that I do "feel" I need it, so I am sure there is some level of chemical as well as emotional dependency.  The fear of not doing what I can to stop and hopefully reverse these memory issues has become a strong motivator.  Thanks to all who have shared their stories as they have been very helpful.
Any updates of your progress?
Avatar universal
I started taking Zolpidem(Generic form of Ambien) almost 2 years ago as the Trazadone I had taken prior to that had stopped working, I knew what the side affects were for me (even now as I write, I can't remember what words I am supposed to use) while I was under the influence of the pill(30 minutes after taking it). But as another person mentioned on here, NO WHERE, or NO ONE states that it has a long-term affect on your memory to the point that I have cried and cried because I feel like I have early stages of Alzheimer's, and I am only 46. I think we (I) need to speak to a Personal Injury Attorney, because this meds need to be removed from the shelf. They are dangerous. I have forgotten how to say sentences, spell, I can't retain anything. I have forgotten what things are called, or their definition. By the time I have been in a conversation for 20 minutes I have forgotten what was said and have to ask what we were talking about. I have to write EVERYTHING down, grocery list, Dr.s appointments, pic up precriptions..etc.. It's frustrating, I was considering a neurologist until I came across this forum, and I think I know what is wrong with me..
Avatar universal
I have been off and on Ambian for years.  Have just left my job of 16 years because of the stress of not being able to remember anything. I really thought something was happening to me. Today I could not even remember my social security number and I just sat and cried. I came home and decided to google Ambian and memory loss and what a shock! I don't know if my memory is going to get any better but I can tell you one thing. I am going to flush down the toilet the remainder of my pills. If my doctor would of told me Ambian would effect my memory, I would never and I do repeat never taken a one. I would rather be sleepless in seattle than can't remember s--- in Georgia
Avatar universal
I have been off of the Ambien for a month now, I got me some Choline(by Solaray) time released from Amazon that had good reviews for helping with the memory, been on those for about a week now, also talked to my therapist who put me on 80mg of straterra, and I have to say THEY ARE WORKING.. Slowly but surely each day is a BETTER DAY for me. I hope this helps anyone looking for a solution
480448 tn?1426952138
Ambien absolutely can cause memory loss, more commonly short-term issues, but also some people have reported problems with their long term memory as well.  The good news is...if other causes have been ruled out, and Ambien seems to be the culprit, the memory issues will resolve most times after the Ambien is safely tapered.  

This is why a med like this should be reserved for short-term use only, like a few weeks at a time and if more long term treatment for insomnia is needed, then other options should be explored.
Avatar universal
I took an Ambien, my first one ever, the other night and slept like a newborn baby.  However, when I woke up, I felt like I could have slept another 8 hours.  I am also suffering from some memory loss.  I forgot the pin number to my debit card, something that I have used for years with the same number.  This is troubling.  I'd rather suffer from insomnia than forget basic information.
Avatar universal
I have been on ambien for 11 years now. I do not sleep much even taking the pill but if I do not take it I do not sleep at all. I do have some memory loss I have to write things down to remember. I did not know it caused memory loss I was researching it because I heard after long term use it can cause liver or kidney damage, but I am not sure if that is true. It is 1:32 am and I took my pill at 12:00 and I am still awake I also take xanax 1/2 hour before my ambien and I do not sleep through the night I am up at least 6 times. I was thinking about stopping it if it does do damage to your body. but after 11 years it may be hard to do.
Avatar universal
I agree with most of you all. My doc put me on it like 3 yrs ago but I always took one fourth of 10 mg pill and that too not everyday. I started feeling memory loss a while back and stopped it completely. Still have those moments of feeling lost when  you need to remember something. It ***** when you are in a meeting and forget the name of the person or forget to what to say. I started making notes before hand and started organizing things to help me out....Good luck to all...
Avatar universal
I've been taking Ambien for about 4 yrs now and always about 1/4 of a 10mg pill.  If I don't take it I'll get only a few hours of sleep a night.  My boss actually advised me to start taking sleeping pills b/c I was always a tired wreck at work.  The first few times I took it, I remember my head feeling a little foggy or a bit spacey.  I also would get what I called my "Ambien headaches" if I took it more than a few times a week.  Within the last year, I have started taking it 4 - 6 times a week.  

A few months ago I started working at a new high stress, high profile job at a crazy start-up.  I feel like a complete idiot b/c I can't retain any info, can't comprehend processes, and can't remember anything from meetings, unless I write it down so I can go back to it later.  The time it takes for me to put together any business communications has become an issue for me.  I was never at a loss for words in my career before and was always commended for being a great and thorough communicator.  I've had a fairly successful career and was always well respected.  Because of the above mentioned issues of lack of memory and comprehension, I no longer feel I'm qualified for this position and I just quit my job last week.  Thought I'd do it before I get fired, even in this economy, but it is just humiliating to be in a job that I know that I could have performed with no problems before.  But now I will need to take 2 steps backwards in my career to work in positions that are less stressful and don't require as much brainpower as this job.  

I was never told that Ambien might cause memory loss.  I just happen to pick up a pamplet given by the pharmacist and decided to read it thoroughly.  My bad for not taking the owness in doing more research prior to taking Ambien, but physicians and pharmacists should perhaps be more forthcoming before dispensing.
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