We all know that as we age, our memory isn’t what it used to be. But did you know that there are other surprising causes of memory loss? Here are five that you may not know about –
When people reach middle age or older, simple acts of forgetfulness are scary because they make them think of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, Alzheimer’s is not the only disease that can lead to forgetfulness, according to the National Institute on Aging. There are a number of reasons why memory lapses can occur at any age. When the underlying cause of the memory problems is treated, the symptoms often improve as well.
Consult your doctor if you have concerns about your memory so that you can determine what is causing your symptoms. If you discuss your symptoms with your doctor and take various tests, including an MRI, he or she may be able to determine the cause of the problem.
Possible causes could include one or more of the following:
1 – Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Stress, anxiety, and depression are all common causes of memory loss. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your brain has a hard time focusing on anything else. This can lead to forgetting things or even whole conversations. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, talk to your doctor. They can help you find ways to manage your symptoms and improve your overall health.
Stress is particularly common among people who are juggling work and home responsibilities and are not sleeping well. Often, reducing stress will improve memory.
Chronic stress, when left untreated, can cause depression, which can also affect some measures of memory, according to a study published in May 2022 in Frontiers in Psychiatry. National Institute on Aging notes that mood disorders such as depression may improve with medication and counseling.
2 – Having Trouble Sleeping
Most people know that a lack of sleep can lead to feeling tired and groggy the next day. But did you know that it can also lead to memory loss? Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have trouble remembering things. So if you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be time to see a doctor. Or, start making some changes in your routine to make sure you’re getting the proper amount of sleep.
Harvard Medical School says sleep disorders, such as insomnia – or the chronic inability to fall or stay asleep – and sleep apnea – involuntary pauses in breathing throughout the night – cause memory loss and dementia. According to the report, a lack of sleep can cause fatigue, which can subsequently lead to brain fog and memory problems.
Researchers found that sleep apnea negatively affects spatial navigational memory, which includes memory for directions and where things are kept, according to Dr. Lyketsos.
3 – Medications
If you take medications for another condition and don’t get enough sleep, your memory could be affected. The hormones that drive memory creation and consolidation are altered by a lack of sleep, which makes it difficult to process new information or store it properly in your brain. This effect is commonly referred to as sleep drunkenness, and it can leave you with a foggy memory when you wake up in addition to making it harder to recall memories from earlier in the day.
Your medication may need to be adjusted if you experience memory loss or forgetfulness. A number of types of drugs can impair memory, according to the American Association of Retired Persons, including:-
Drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins can cause reversible cognitive side effects including memory loss and confusion.
4 – Lack of nutrition
You may not know this, but what you eat (or don’t eat) can affect your memory. A lack of nutrients like vitamins B6, B12, and folate can lead to memory loss. So can a lack of omega-3 fatty acids. To make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients, eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should get 2.4 micrograms of B12 each day from foods such as dairy products, meat, and fish, or from fortified foods, such as cereals fortified with vitamin B12.
5 – Silent Stroke
A silent stroke is one that occurs without any noticeable symptoms. However, this doesn’t mean that a silent stroke isn’t serious. In fact, a silent stroke can cause damage to your brain and lead to memory loss.
Stroke can result in obvious changes in thinking and movement following the blocking of major blood vessels in the brain. Changes in the function of the brain, ranging from mild to severe, are called vascular cognitive impairments.
People with memory loss are at a greater risk of stroke because of reduced blood flow to the brain, which deprives it of oxygen and nutrients. According to a study published in BMC Public Health in 2021, forgetfulness may be an early warning sign of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke.