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Gabapentin and Fuzzy Thinking: A Recognized Side Effect

Fuzzy thinking is not an official FDA side effect of gabapentin or pregabalin. And yet we keep hearing from people who complain about this complication.

We have been writing a lot about GABA drugs like gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica). That because a report from ISMP (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) has a QuarterWatch article: “Focus on Three Psychoactive Drugs” (March 27, 2019).  A lot of people love these GABA “analogs.” They tell us that these are the only medicines that ease their nerve pain. But others report brain fog or fuzzy thinking. That can be a challenging complication. Here is just one example of such a side effect.

Fuzzy Thinking While Taking Gabapentin:

Q. I took GABA drugs, both gabapentin and pregabalin for severe back pain. After some months I had very foggy thinking. I couldn’t remember simple things. I was sleepy all the time. I had a much slower rate of processing information. I even ran off the road in my car a couple of times, something I never did before.

When I asked my doctor about it he said:

“Oh yeah, that’s a known side effect. We don’t mention it because not everyone has it.”

I stopped the meds right away, knowing there would be hell to pay, and there was. At least I was prepared for withdrawal symptoms. My husband was very supportive and understanding during this time. He was also glad I was off the meds because he said he did not recognize the person I had become. I have since found relief through chiropractic care. Not 100 percent but pain free most days. When I have pain, it’s much less severe.

A. A report from ISMP QuarterWatch (March 27, 2019) warns about the inappropriate use of GABA drugs like gabapentin and pregabalin. Mental impairment, confusion and memory loss are recognized side effects. Some people use the term fuzzy thinking to describe the brain impact.

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Sleepiness and dizziness are quite common complications of both drugs. Your doctor should have warned you about the dangers of driving while taking either medicine.

Gabapenin & Pregabalin Brain Side Effects Include:

  • Memory Loss
  • Amnesia
  • Memory Impairment
  • Confusion (fuzzy thinking)
  • Somnolence (sleepiness)
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation (brain fog, fuzzy thinking)
  • Abnormal Thinking
  • Depression

How to Avoid Adverse Drug Reactions:

In our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them, we include tips to avoid adverse reactions and a drug safety questionnaire that you can copy and have your doctor fill out. You will be better informed next time you get a new prescription. The book is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Share y0ur own experience with GABA drugs in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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