When Its Time To See A Doctor
If youre not sure if loss of memory warrants a doctor visit, consider:
- Does your memory loss disrupt daily activities?
- How often do the lapses occur?
- Whats being forgottendetails of a conversation, or the conversation in its entirety?
- Are there signs of confusion ?
- Is the memory loss getting worse?
If someone is having trouble remembering the day of the weeknot the date, but Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdaythats concerning, says Dr. Karlawish. Other concerning signs are repetitive questions: They get an answer, then several minutes later, they ask the same question. Or they repeat a story: something about a recent event, but then 20 minutes later, they tell you the same story.
Its not unusual for people to deny theyre having memory problems or to downplay the issue, but a prompt diagnosis is important.
Arrive at some reasonable, common understanding that you ought to get it looked into, says Dr. Karlawish. They dont have to agree on everything youve seen, and you dont have to make it a confrontation. Just get to the point where you can agree that Gee, it would be good to get this checked out. Then, the key is to go with them to the appointment.
You dont need to find a specialist for an initial consultation. Instead, look close to home.
Start with a doctor who knows you well, so a primary care physician, says Dr. Karlawish. Ideally, people go in with someone who knows them wella spouse, child or close friendwho can speak to what theyve been seeing.
How Depression Impacts The Risk Of Memory Loss
People with depression often struggle with short-term memory loss, but they are also at risk of long-term memory problems. A wealth of research, including a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, has shown that untreated depression significantly increases the risk of dementia. Depressive disorder doubles the risk of developing cognitive impairment in women and quadruples it in men.
In a fascinating study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, a team of researchers evaluated mood and memory in 5,781 women ages 65 and older. At the studys outset, 3.6% of the women had 6 or more symptoms of depression. Of these depressed women, however, nearly 93% of them were untreated. At a follow-up 4 years later, the more depressive symptoms had increased, the worse the women performed on cognitive tests. Women with 3-5 symptoms of depression had a 60% higher chance of cognitive impairment, while those with 6 or more depressive symptoms were 230% more likely to have cognitive decline. According to other researchers, having depression later in life may be a possible precursor to Alzheimers disease.
Some Of The Common Causes Of Memory Loss Include
1. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a troublesome and devastating health condition it is linked to memory loss and dementia. Doctors diagnose your condition like sleep apnea if you have a headache early in the morning or if you wake up with a headache. In addition, you may also have daytime fatigue if you snore loudly during sleep. It is a treatable sleep disorder wherein you may experience frequent stoppage of breathing throughout the night. Sleep apnea can also hamper deep sleep which is associated with rapid eye movement it is crucial for building memory. Sleep apnea also affects spatial navigational memory which helps in remembering steps and directions involved in putting things. When the oxygen supply to the brain is stopped several hundreds of times during the night, it makes the brain stressed up and therefore people wake up. One of the prominent symptoms is memory loss says Dr Vikram Sharma.
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Effects Of Stress On Memory
The effects of stress on memory include interference with a person’s capacity to encodememory and the ability to retrieve information. During times of stress, the body reacts by secreting stress hormones into the bloodstream. Stress can cause acute and chronic changes in certain brain areas which can cause long-term damage. Over-secretion of stress hormones most frequently impairs long-term delayed recall memory, but can enhance short-term, immediate recall memory. This enhancement is particularly relative in emotional memory. In particular, the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are affected. One class of stress hormone responsible for negatively affecting long-term, delayed recall memory is the glucocorticoids , the most notable of which is cortisol. Glucocorticoids facilitate and impair the actions of stress in the brain memory process. Cortisol is a known biomarker for stress. Under normal circumstances, the hippocampus regulates the production of cortisol through negative feedback because it has many receptors that are sensitive to these stress hormones. However, an excess of cortisol can impair the ability of the hippocampus to both encode and recall memories. These stress hormones are also hindering the hippocampus from receiving enough energy by diverting glucose levels to surrounding muscles.
Is There Anything You Can Do About Anxiety And Depression
While it may not be possible to retrieve memories that werent stored in the first place due to distraction, for example, the impact anxiety and depression has on memory function itself is usually reversible, Dr Jordan says.
The impact of anxiety and depression on memory seems to be reversible, at least if the episodes dont go on for too long without treatment, she explains.
Not treating anxiety or depressive disorders can, over years, lead to many negative health outcomes. So, its important to seek treatment if you are struggling with either.
While its interesting to learn about the ways in which anxiety and depression can impair memory, its also comforting to know that any impact on the brains ability to function, while scary, is most likely reversible.
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Description Of Included Studies
The eight included studies were published between 2009 and 2018, with nine prospective cohorts and a total of 29,608 participants. displays the main characteristics of these studies. Five were from Europe , two from the United States and one from Mexico . One study included only women , and another included only men . One study did not report the average age , but for the others, age ranged from 60.8 to 82.8 years . The duration of follow-up varied between 3 and 28 years .
How To Improve Your Memory If You Have Anxiety
People who are forgetful may benefit by adopting compensatory strategies, which help them to cope despite their temporary memory lapses. For example, if you know you’re forgetful, then when someone tells you something important, try to write it down immediately. Post-it notes can also be used to help you remember important bits of information.
People tend to test their memories when they have anxiety or decide that they don’t need to make changes because “this time” they won’t forget. There’s simply no reason to take that risk, and unfortunately, forgetfulness can actually contribute to further anxiety.
Another strategy you may want to try is starting a blog or journal and using it to write down all of your thoughts. Your blog – like a journal – can be made private so only you can read it, but you can use it to take note of anything you want to remember.
This could include what you did that day, the conversations you had, who you talked to, etc. It could also include any distressing or anxiety-related thoughts and feelings that came up for you during the day.
Apart from helping you to remember important facts, this can also help to improve your mood, which in turn can reduce your anxiety and improve your memory. Finally, keep in mind that taking steps to treat your underlying anxiety condition is likely to result in improved concentration and memory all-round.
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Anxiety Is A Sh*thead
As well as messing with your neurochemistry and reducing your hours-to-winks-caught ratio, anxiety has found a whole bunch of ways to screw with your memory.
24/7 worrying is a big slice of the anxiety pie, and it leaves little room for other thoughts. For example, hypervigilance about an upcoming review at work could make you space that its your partners birthday in 2 weeks.
Hypervigilance may make your brain not great at retaining and recalling information that doesnt relate to your personal anxiety focus. Plus, theres the perpetual-motion-like way anxiety can sustain itself in your mind. Many folks with anxiety start getting anxious about their anxiety, leading to a state of Anxiety-ception.
Memory loss is scary because it can point to serious brain conditions. Its not uncommon for memory loss and confusion to become an anxiety trigger or focus. Your anxiety leads to memory loss, which leads to anxiety about memory loss, which leads to more memory loss and more anxiety.
Not nice at all.
Other Causes Related To Memory Loss
Normal age-related memory is the most common cause of memory loss with time. Good news? Its quite manageable. Brain tumors and infections can cause dementia-like symptoms. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is important for the nourishment of nerve cells and red blood cells and can result in memory problems.
Alzheimer’s disease causes progressive and irreversible brain damage and memory loss. It is the most common form of dementia. Disease damaging brain or nerves such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. A study carried out in 2013 proved that depression increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Hypothyroidism affects brain health by slowing metabolism, which leads to memory problems. Minor head injuries can cause mild memory problems, even if you haven’t lost consciousness. Forgetfulness is also a potential side effect of some medications. Drinking or tobacco can impair your mental abilities.
Electroconvulsive therapy changes the chemistry of the brain, causing a brief attack, which can result in symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses. After ECT treatment, people can experience confusion and short-term memory loss.
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Questionnaires For Stress And Anxiety
The Short Form Perceived Stress Scale
The Short Form Perceived Stress Scale is an abbreviated version of the self-report Perceived Stress Scale . It provides the subjective assessment of stressful life events within the previous month. The PSS-4 consists of four items in which the frequency of stressful events is rated on a 5-point Likert scale . The stress dimensions measured are unpredictability, uncontrollability, and sense of overload in everyday life. Individual scores are compared to normative values. The complete 14-item scale has higher reliability than the PSS-4 , but the brevity of PSS-4 makes it an attractive tool for research.
PSS-4 population norms for non-clinical samples have been gathered in the 1983 Harris Poll in the United States and in the United Kingdom . When comparing our data to the more recent norms established by Warttig et al. , the total PSS-4 score of our sample is very similar . Also the internal consistency of the scale in our sample was comparable to that reported by Warttig et al. .
Table 2. Comparison of average PSS-4 scores in the present sample and in the normative sample collected by Warttig et al. .
The Six-Item Form of the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
If Youre Experiencing Forgetfulness Or Confusion Check Your Medicine Cabinet
by Dr. Armon B. Neel, Jr., February 9, 2016| 0
For a long time doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as a normal part of aging. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
But what many people don’t realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.
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Common Signs Of Anxiety
Anxiety doesnt work like depression as you don’t forget the key events in your life, but it generally affects working memory. You can retain instructions, directions, conversation, or your exam material. You are unable to remember and focus on minor details due to anxiety.
The constant struggle that your mind does to keep it out of stress leads to forgetting little things and significant events, resulting in conflicts and tension. You will also feel trouble carrying out daily essential tasks like cooking or driving as you might forget to keep turn the gas off or the fear of missing the right turn wont let you focus on other road details.
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On top of this, there are condition-specific reasons why anxiety and depression can affect memory. For example, Dr Jordan points out, people with anxiety may struggle to recall events because theyre distracted by the anxious thoughts going around in their brain.
And when it comes to depression, the impact the condition can have on brain function in general can indirectly impact memory, too.
Brain imaging studies have shown that depressed patients brains under-function in areas we associate with attention, concentration, memory, planning, problem-solving and motivation, Dr Jordan explains. One possible cause for the memory problems in depressed people is also that the hippocampus, which is the structure we rely on for memory, is often smaller in those with the condition.
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How To Manage Anxiety
It is possible to have the above possible causes of memory loss as you deal with anxiety. You can get over your memory loss by doing the following:
- Learn how to improve your memory
- Get over your anxiety
How to Improve Memory
There are some memory improvement approaches that can be used by anybody. However, these approaches are even more important if you suffer from anxiety and memory loss. Note that keeping focus on new and interesting activities can help to keep your memory active so that it retains more. Some activities for memory improvement include:
Regular blogging Daily blogging or journaling helps you to keep notes of things that happened in your day. There is no need to include too many details as long as you note the things that you consider to be worth remembering. Rereading these notes will help your mind retain more memories.
Try mnemonics You can learn mnemonics from various books available at bookstores and online. Note that to improve your memory, you must be committed to pursuing it and practicing it diligently.
How to Relieve Anxiety
1. Exercise Regularly
While the effect of exercise on the functions of the mind is usually ignored, it is worth encouraging everybody with anxiety issues to exercise regularly. Exercising increases the flow of blood, calms anxiety and stimulates increased production of neurotransmitters. Exercise can therefore work in a similar way to medication which is the reason why it should be done every day.
7. Create Art
Why Does Severe Anxiety Cause Memory Loss
Extensive research demonstrates various ways that anxiety and memory loss are linked, and studies show that people with generalized anxiety and/or panic disorders have greater difficulty remembering experiences from their childhood than their non-anxious counterparts. Its clear that acute stress can disrupt the process of collecting memories.
“For about three years, I could not remember anything about my childhood.”
New Yorkbased licensed mental health counselor Ramon Lantigua Jr. further explains this connection to Allure. Anxiety can cause memory loss because it is an incredibly unpleasant emotion, and memory loss allows us to put off dealing with that negative event in an attempt to limit future instances of anxiety, he says. Often, specific memories that caused us anxiety are specifically lost as a strategic coping mechanism. This coping skill is very common when dealing with those who have struggled with trauma.
Rachel, 21, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, confirmed that they tend to forget specific memories that were traumatic or caused them great anxiety. I have difficulty remembering the order of events that are related to traumatic memories, they say. I may remember what happened but not how it happened. And for about three years, I could not remember anything about my childhood.”
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Anxiety Harms Your Memory Recall
Anxiety happens when worrisome thoughts continually play in your head. This constant mental stress will empty your energy reserves. It becomes harder to remember new information and to recall old information. Your brain becomes locked in a pattern of anxiety and leaves no room for new memories to form, which makes it difficult to get a full night of sleep. Sleep is the time when our brain consolidates new memories and what we learned throughout the day.
A study out of the University of California has found that losing sleep can make your brain susceptible to the type of memory loss connected to dementia.
Brain Tip: Consider therapy to reduce the stress of anxiety such as:
Can Depression And Anxiety Cause Memory Loss
It comes as no surprise that depression and anxiety make you feel sad, bad, and stressed. But many people are unaware that these mental health issues are also associated with forgetfulness, poor concentration, trouble making decisions, and confusion. It all adds up to memory problems, and thats bad news. How do anxiety and depression interfere with memory? Before diving into the details, lets take a look at how memories are made and the different types of memories.
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Causes Of Anxiety Memory Loss
The main cause of memory loss is a hormone known as cortisol. It’s the hormone released during stress, which is why those with severe anxiety are more at risk for developing memory loss problems. Numerous studies have confirmed that cortisol contributes to memory loss, especially short term memory loss, because it is a toxin to the cells of the brain.
The longer you deal with anxiety, the more cortisol you’ll have in your system, and that means that you’re more likely to continue to suffer from memory loss in the future. But cortisol is not the only culprit. Other reasons for trouble remembering include:
Memory loss may be its own cause of anxiety. People are afraid of getting older and forgetting things, so when they forget anything they start to feel as though their minds are failing them.
All of these examples of memory loss are normal, and simply a part of dealing with anxiety. In order to overcome that memory loss, you need to do two things:
- Learn Memory Improvement Tricks
- Control Your Anxiety
Memory improvement tools are always important, and when you have anxiety they’re even more so. You should be focusing on new and interesting ways to keep your memory active.
Daily blogging is one useful way. Give yourself a personal recap of your day. You don’t need to go into great detail, but you should take relevant notes of things that you want to remember and then re-read those notes often in order to keep those memories alive.