Medications can help lessen or control some memory and thinking (cognitive) and behavioral symptoms, depending on your specific condition. Medications for treating memory disorders include:
Amyloid reducing agents
The FDA has given accelerated approval for two drugs that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and are only indicated for people with mild disease:
- Lecanemab (Lequembi®)
- Aducanumab (Aduhelm®)
These drugs target removal of brain amyloid, one of the proteins that build up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Before starting these drugs, your doctor will need to confirm the presence of amyloid in your brain. Your doctor will order either an amyloid PET scan or spinal tap.
The long-term effects of lecanemab and aducanumab in people with early Alzheimer’s disease are still being studied.
Learn more about important safety, eligibility, and cost information for lecanemab.
Anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics)
These medications help to treat anxiety and lessen restlessness. They can also be used to manage muscle twitches (myoclonus) if you have conditions such as corticobasal degeneration or Huntington’s disease.
We may recommend an antidepressant (usually a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI) to help with depression and irritability.
Botulinum toxin (Botox®)
Botox can help to control involuntary muscle contractions (dystonia) associated with corticobasal degeneration.
These drugs may help stop the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical in your brain that helps with memory. They may be most effective for reducing symptoms that affect memory and thinking in a mild or moderate form of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
Movement disorder treatments
Medications can help to treat involuntary movements associated with Huntington’s disease. These treatments include:
N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists
These drugs prevent excess levels of glutamate (a chemical that carries nerve signals) from harming the brain. This may help delay decline in cognitive ability. NMDA receptor antagonists may be most effective for a moderate to severe form of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Memantine is an NMDA receptor antagonist.
People with Alzheimer’s often take a NMDA receptor antagonist along with a cholinesterase inhibitor to better treat their symptoms. For instance, Namzaric® combines memantine and donepezil into one medication.