Anterograde amnesia linked to benzodiazepines

Nurse Pract. 1992 Oct;17(10):44, 49-50. doi: 10.1097/00006205-199210000-00013.


Benzodiazepines, shown to affect memory, can produce anterograde amnesia (i.e., a loss of memory for events occurring forward in time). Following the ingestion of a benzodiazepine, short-term memory is not affected, but long-term memory is impaired. The memory loss may occur because events are not transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory and thus not consolidated into memory storage. Information stored prior to the ingestion of a benzodiazepine is not affected. Memory impairment is more likely in benzodiazepines that have a high benzodiazepine-receptor affinity, that accumulate in the body, that are given in high doses or intravenously, or that are eliminated slowly. Individuals taking benzodiazepines are often unaware of their memory impairment unless it is pointed out to them. Elderly clients experiencing memory impairment may be embarrassed to mention the problem. Alternatives to prescribing benzodiazepines include antidepressant medications, exercise or psychotherapy. When prescribing a benzodiazepine, it is important to fully inform patients of the drug's potential side effects and to maintain the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amnesia / chemically induced*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / adverse effects*
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Benzodiazepines