Back to Reality


When first I was labelled as having Dementia, I wanted very much to try Donepezil. I had heard of it. I knew it was the only drug-related to Dementia and believed it would cure me. I was wrong!

Donepezil is not a treatment for any Dementia related illness. It can temporarily ease the known symptoms, but only for a short period. It does not slow down the progression, but in some cases, it does appear to slow down the further decline in cognition, usually for around six months.

It does this by stopping or slowing down the breakdown of Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the most prolific neurotransmitter in the brain. The neurotransmitter is responsible for getting messages from one brain cell to another. When this process of passing messages fails, the brain cell will eventually die and depending on where in the brain, this happens, the symptoms will vary accordingly.

I’ve been on Donepezil for a few years. I’m not sure exactly how long. As a part of my campaign to come off my independence on prescription drugs, I’ve decided to stop Donepezil. No doctor as suggested or advised that I should do this. However, I am amazed that I am still on it after reading the information, advice and period suggested on taking it.

I’ve been off it now for over a month, and most of the side effects have significantly eased. I still have sleep problems, and some nights I cannot sleep at all. My temperature is varied; I seem to go from being hot to cold and back, all the time, but if this is Donepezil, I’m not sure. I only know that this has been my normal situation since stopping. An upset stomach is also another ongoing problem since finishing, but it is getting better, slowly.

My main concern is what I know as my separation or distancing from myself. This will sound strange, I know, but I live inside my head. Imagine that my head is a cave, and I observe the world as if seeing it through the entrance to that cave. I told you it is strange! Everything is distance or separated. When I look at my hands, they appear to be far away, not apart of me. Have you ever seen an image of a VR, Virtual Reality, headset, where you see these floating hands? That is how I feel. I’m in my Virtual and multi-sensual reality. Me inside is not the same as me outside. I seem to spend more time like this, since coming off Donepezil, but I’m hoping this will improve with time.


Below is some basic information provide by NHS

Donepezil – Brand names: Aricept

  1. About donepezil
  2. Key facts
  3. Who can and cannot take donepezil
  4. How and when to take it
  5. Side effects
  6. How to cope with side effects
  7. Cautions with other medicines
  8. Common questions

1. About donepezil

Donepezil is a medicine that helps with some types of dementia.

It does not cure dementia. However, it treats some of the symptoms of Alzheimers’s, Parkinson’s, Down syndrome or Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

It can also help with “mixed dementia”. This is when you have more than one type of dementia.

Donepezil is available on prescription only.

It comes as tablets, including tablets that melt in your mouth, and as a liquid that you drink.

2. Key facts

  • Donepezil can help with symptoms like being forgetful or confused.
  • The most common side effects of donepezil are diarrhoea, headache and feeling sick (nausea).
  • You can take it with or without food.
  • Drinking alcohol stops donepezil from working as well as it should. It also increases the risk of side effects.

3. Who can and cannot take donepezil

Donepezil can be taken by adults only.

Donepezil is not suitable for some people. To make sure this medicine is safe to take, tell your doctor if you or the person you’re caring for have:

  • had an allergic reaction to donepezil or other medicines in the past
  • liver problems
  • ever had an ulcer in your gut or intestines, or a stomach ulcer
  • heart problems, such as an irregular or slow heartbeat
  • asthma or other lung disease such as COPD
  • ever had a seizure or fit
  • a condition that makes it difficult to pee

4. How and when to take it

It’s best to take your donepezil at bedtime. This is because you may feel dizzy after you take it.

If donepezil gives you bad dreams or makes it hard to sleep, you can take it in the morning instead.

Dosage

Always follow the instructions that come with your medicine.

Donepezil comes as 5mg or 10mg tablets.

If you are taking liquid donepezil, a 5ml spoonful contains 5mg of medicine (1mg/1ml).

The usual starting dose of donepezil is 5mg (one tablet or one 5ml spoonful of liquid), taken once a day.

After a month, the doctor may increase your dose to 10mg (one 10mg tablet or two 5ml spoonfuls of liquid), taken once a day.

How to take the tablets

Swallow the tablets with a drink of water.

Donepezil also comes as a tablet that melts in your mouth (called an “orodispersible” tablet).

Put the tablet on your tongue and let it dissolve. You can then swallow it without a drink. You can have a drink of water afterwards if you want to.

How to take the liquid

Use the plastic spoon that comes with your medicine to measure out your dose. If you do not have a measuring spoon ask a pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.

Swallow the liquid donepezil. You can have a drink of water afterwards if you like.

What if I forget to take it?

If you forget a dose of donepezil, skip the missed dose and take the next one at the normal time the next day.

Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

If you’ve forgotten to take your donepezil for more than a week, talk to your doctor before you take any more.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask a doctor, pharmacist or dementia support group for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

What if I take too much?

The amount of donepezil that can cause an overdose varies from person to person.

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