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Can Anxiety Cause Memory Problems

Normal Forgetfulness Vs Dementia

Can Anxiety Cause Memory Loss & Concentration Issues?

For most people, occasional lapses in short-term memory are a normal part of the aging process, not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of Alzheimers or another dementia.

The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:

  • Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
  • Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your sons name.
  • Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
  • Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what youve just read, or the details of a conversation.
  • Not quite being able to retrieve information you have on the tip of your tongue.

Causes Of Memory Loss

Here are some of the more common things that can cause memory loss:

Medications. A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can interfere with or cause loss of memory. Possible culprits include: antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and pain medications given after surgery.

Alcohol, tobacco, or drug use. Excessive alcohol use has long been recognized as a cause of memory loss.

Smoking harms memory by reducing the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain. Studies have shown that people who smoke find it more difficult to put faces with names than do nonsmokers. Illegal drugs can change chemicals in the brain that can make it hard to recall memories.

Sleep deprivation. Both quantity and quality of sleep are important to memory. Getting too little sleep or waking frequently in the night can lead to fatigue, which interferes with the ability to consolidate and retrieve information.

Depression and stress. Being depressed can make it difficult to pay attention and focus, which can affect memory. Stress and anxiety can also get in the way of concentration. When you are tense and your mind is overstimulated or distracted, your ability to remember can suffer. Stress caused by an emotional trauma can also lead to memory loss.

About Author: Nancy Piccione

Nancy Piccione has worked as a journalist, public relations professional, and homeschooling mom. She has a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and a masters degree from Northwestern Universitys Medill School of Journalism.She and her husband, Joseph, have called Central Illinois home for the past 25 years. They have three young adult children. She is a lover of book clubs, hiking, board games, and travel.

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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.”

What Can You Do To Help Manage Brain Fog

Why does no one talk about how depression and anxiety can ...

Living with a chronic illness is hard, and feeling like you are “losing your mind” is even harder. Don’t lose hope, there are some things that you can do to help manage that feeling so that you can still function and hold on to that piece of yourself, and your sanity, so that you don’t feel like everything is slipping away.

Get Into the Habit of Writing Everything Down

Writing things down can help immensely. If writing hurts your hands, you can use voice activation on your mobile device. iOs and Android device and wonderful notepads, and there are many different apps that can help you take notes. Get into a good habit of writing things down, and a good filing system based on topic, and never forget a conversation again.

Hint:Always tell whoever you are talking to what you are doing so that they know you aren’t multi-tasking or being rude.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

You are going through some serious stuff…like the most painful disease in the entire world. That is quite the burden to carry around, so give yourself a break, and try to give yourself a break if you forget to set out the chicken to defrost for dinner. It happens. Forgive yourself and give yourself a break. Be your own best-friend and think about what you would say to your BFF if they did something like that. You would say “Don’t even sweat it! Just order Uber Eats and don’t stress about it. You have enough to worry about to worry about frozen chicken. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”.

Exercise Your Mind


Recommended Reading: How To Control Social Anxiety

It Is Thought That Depression Mainly Has Its Negative Effect On Your Short

In general, symptoms of depression can include trouble focusing on tasks, as well as confusion and forgetfulness. More in-depth research has shown that depression is linked to memory loss, specifically when looking at our short-term memory. Research has shown that depressed individuals have a difficult time identifying objects that they were presented with that they had just viewed previously.

In addition, it has been shown that people who suffer from depression can also have a hard time remembering the finer details of events. So the broader memory of the event that occurred will be there, but more specific occurrences within that event will be more difficult to recall. Depression can also weaken a personâs prospective memory. Prospective memory involves planning and acknowledging something that you will do in the near future, such as picking up a prescription or doing your laundry. When you are depressed, you can actually become a lot more forgetful of these types of tasks and your ability to carry out prospective memories can suffer.

Interestingly enough, depressed individuals do not necessarily have trouble recalling âbadâ memories. Based on recent research, it appears that non-depressed individuals generally have an easier time remembering positive events compared to negative ones, whereas individuals who suffer from depression actually tend to have an easier time remembering the negative memories that theyâve experienced.

When Its More Than Just Forgetfulness

When someone experiences forgetfulness, their initial fear may be dementia.

A common misconception is that dementia is just a normal part of aging, Lyndsay said. But dementia is a loss in function that happens earlier or faster than what we see in normal aging.

The most common cause of dementia over the age of 65? Alzheimers disease. Typical symptoms of Alzheimers disease include forgetting recent events or conversations, repetition or getting lost in familiar places. People who have Alzheimers disease usually dont recognize that they are having these problems.

Another common cause of dementia is cerebrovascular disease, or damage to the blood vessels in the brain. This damage can be due to strokes and many of the same things that cause heart disease for instance, poorly controlled high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking.

While there is no way to reverse the damage that has been done, working to manage these conditions and healthy lifestyle changes can help to minimize the risk.

No matter the cause of dementia, when there is memory loss, safety is a primary concern, Lyndsay said. Monitoring how a person is managing their medications and finances and observing driving skills can help identify problems that could become early safety issues.

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The Effects Of Anxiety On The Body

Anxiety is a normal part of life. For example, you may have felt anxiety before addressing a group or in a job interview.

In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, concentrating blood flow to your brain, where you need it. This very physical response is preparing you to face an intense situation.

If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.

Anxiety disorders can happen at any stage of life, but they usually begin by middle age. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, says the National Institute of Mental Health .

Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder, too. Symptoms may begin immediately or years later. Having a serious medical condition or a substance use disorder can also lead to an anxiety disorder.

There are several types of anxiety disorders. They include:

Surprising Causes Of Memory Loss

Can stress cause memory related problems?

If you have difficulty remembering things, your mind may make the leap to Alzheimers disease but thats not the only cause of memory loss.

You can’t find your keys or you forget an appointment. For many people in middle age or older, simple acts of forgetfulness like these are scary because they raise the specter of Alzheimer’s disease.

But Alzheimers is not the only health issue that can lead to forgetfulness, which is often treatable if you know the cause, according to the National Institute on Aging. Memory loss can happen at any age and for a number of reasons.

Patients might experience memory loss and describe their symptoms similarly, but a doctor can tease apart what parts of the brain are affected, says Seth Gale, MD, a neurologist at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.

He points out things like polypharmacy , significant depression, and poor sleep that can lead to memory complaints. When you drill down and find out what is actually happening with brain function, you can reassure someone. They have the capacity to learn and store information but because of their overloaded mental resources, they are having trouble, says Dr. Gale.

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Stress Anxiety And Depression

Significant stress or anxiety can lead to problems with attention and memory, cautions Lyketsos. This is particularly common among people who may be juggling home and work responsibilities and are not sleeping well. Usually, easing stress can improve memory, Lyketsos says.

Untreated chronic stress can lead to depression, which could also affect brain function, according to research published in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences. A mood disorder may improve with medication and counseling, notes the National Institute on Aging.

Improve Your Memory Under Stress

There are several things you can do to improve your memory when stressed. Fortunately, these techniques also help manage stress. One of the most important things you can do is to practice personal self-care: get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and manage stress.

Poor sleep, high stress, and other physical problems can affect memory as well as contribute to the stress that impedes memory formation and retrieval.

There are other important strategies you can use as well. Here are some research-backed strategies you can use:

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Crps Causes Memory Loss Forgetfulness And Brain Fog

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS, is the most painful disease known to Humankind. It is a disease of the Sympathetic, Central, Enteric and Autonomic Nervous Systems, and any injury can trigger it at any time. CRPS has many symptoms, including disproportionate, burning pain, cold or hot skin, increased sensitivity to the skin, and swelling to the affected limb. Another symptom that is often not talked about, is memory loss, forgetfulness, and brain fog.

For a list of symptoms,

Brain fog is a general term that many people who suffer from CRPS use to describe the general feeling of dysfunctions in focus, learning, and memory that can create brief episodes of confusion, disorientation, and frustration.

How Anxiety Can Cause Memory Loss

Can Stress Cause Memory Loss

Anxiety can definitely cause memory loss. Here are three reasons that anxiety can cause memory loss:

  • Stress Hormones The stress hormone cortisol is often elevated in patients who have General Anxiety Disorder. Cortisol elevation can help create a memory in a stressful situation, but it makes it more difficult for a person to recall an existing memory. It is not believed that these memory problems are permanent or represent any type of loss of brain function. When the stress diminishes, your normal ability to recall memories will return.
  • Distracted Thinking People with anxiety are also prone to having incredibly active minds with lots of thoughts running through their mind. When your mind is this active, you are not focused on the new things you’re trying to remember, which distracts you from forming a memory. Distracting thinking also blocks your ability to become aware of memories when they appear in your stream of consciousness. It is like clouds blocking your ability to see the sun.
  • Sleep Loss, etc. – Anxiety also affects secondary issues which may affect memory. For example, anxiety can make it harder to sleep, and sleep deprivation has a known effect on memory and recall.

Read Also: What Does Anxiety Do To Your Body

Can Mental Health Problems And Stress Affect Your Memory

Many of us feel more forgetful than normal at times of stress and anxiety. So why is this, and what should we do if we’re experiencing poor memory in conjunction with poor mental health?

Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
27-Aug-20·5 mins read

It’s a familiar situation: you rush out of your house feeling stressed, only to realise you’ve left your wallet at home. Or you start to panic during an exam or interview, and find your mind going blank. If you’ve ever been accused of being scatty or distracted, you’ll be all too aware of the ways stress can affect your memory.

As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, chances are we’re all feeling the strain. And while stress and anxiety can affect our functioning in many different ways, memory issues are an important piece of the puzzle. Whether you’ve been experiencing complete blanks in your memory – or are simply feeling preoccupied and repeatedly misplacing your keys – it could be due to shaky mental health.

Could This Be You

Typical symptoms of GAD include: Feeling worried or uneasy a lot of the time Having difficulty sleeping, which makes you feel tired Not being able to concentrate Being irritable or on edge Needing frequent reassurance from other people Physical symptoms such as a pounding heartbeat, breathing faster, palpitations , feeling sick, loss of appetite and butterflies in your tummy to name a few.

Did you know? The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are three million people with an anxiety disorder in the UK.

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