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Can Anxiety Make You Forgetful

Do Panic Attacks Cause Memory Loss

Does Stress Make You Forgetful?

Panic attacks are a common symptom of panic disorder . Panic-related memory loss happens for a few reasons similar to those youve just read.

These are more likely to affect the memories leading up to, during, and directly after the panic attack. They dont tend to be total. Folks usually remember having the attack, but the details and specifics outside of feeling ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh are vaguer than a Senate floor filibuster.

Continuing the theme of anxiety being terrible, having panic attacks can lead to intense anxiety about having panic attacks. This in turn causes more memory loss. Its the circle of life, but instead of musical cartoon animals, we get terror and confusion.

Have Brain Fog Heres How To Feel More Like Yourself According To Experts

Rashmi Parmar, M.D. and Leela Magavi, M.D., psychiatrists at Mindpath Health, formerly Community Psychiatry, explain what causes brain fog and how to cope.

After the very stressful year that was 2020, you might have experienced moments where you felt extremely tired, sluggish, forgetful, unable to concentrate, and even confused. If this sounds familiar, were here to tell you that no, its not because youre lazy, but instead, you might have experienced brain fog. Brain fog is a very real and common concern that describes a range of those feelings and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few years. While it isnt a medical condition in itself, it can be a sign of an underlying issue.

The good news is, there are things you can do to help bring some mental clarity and combat brain fog. Below, we spoke with three mental health experts to discuss exactly what brain fog is, what its causes are, and how grounding techniques can help you cope.

When Are You Under Stress A Scientific Definition

This quote is worth reading twice:

When an organism faces emotional distress or is physically challenged the autonomic nervous system, a subdivision of the sympathetic nervous system, is automatically activated. Once activated, a cascade of physiological changes occurs that better enables an organism to confront or escape danger. The term stress applies to the condition under which the autonomic nervous system is activated and stress hormones are released.

And guess what?

When youre frozen, or busy running away, learning gets really tough.

Worse, theres a part of the brain that controls stress that can really wreak havoc on your focus and concentration.

When you undergo a stressful event, the amygdala a part of the brain that enables emotional processing sends a distress call to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is like a command center that communicates with the rest of your body through the nervous system so that you have the energy to fight or flee.

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How Does Stress Affect Your Memory: The Inside Story

When under stress, brain freeze like what Jonas encountered happens mostly because your thinking is preoccupied with the stress-inducing stimuli am I looking cool on TV blocking out other thoughts.

But thats not the complete picture.

While low levels of anxiety can affect your ability to recall information high-stress situations, like being robbed at gunpoint, increases your brains ability to encode and recall traumatic events.

A study by Marloes J. A. G. Henckens and team demonstrated how acute stress is accompanied by a shift into a hypervigilant mode of sensory processing in combination with increased allocation of neural resources to noise reduction. This reduction of task-irrelevant ambient noise, in combination with a stress-hormone-induced optimal state for neural plasticity, may explain why stressful events attain a privileged position in memory.

When To Seek Medical Help For Anxiety

Can Depression And Anxiety Make You Forgetful

We all get worried at times, and well all have stages in life where we need support and help.

As a rule of thumb, its best to speak with a doctor if:

Its rare to experience severe memory loss as a symptom of an anxiety disorder. If youre only experiencing low-level anxiety but have noticeable memory loss, consult your doctor immediately.

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Causes Of Forgetfulness From Anxiety

Your memory is actually very fragile. Your ability to create and recall memories is related to a variety of different factors, including things like nutrition and sleep. Did you know that when we sleep, our brains use this opportunity to sort and encode many of the memories that we have made during the day? Therefore, if you’re not sleeping as result of anxiety, it’s possible that youre forgetful because your brain isnt able to properly process whats happening to you during the day.

However, there are many other potential causes of forgetfulness as well. These include:

Anxiety causes numerous changes to happen to your brain and the way you think, and all of them can lead to issues that may contribute to forgetfulness.

How Can You Reverse The Effects Of Stress On The Brain

Chronic stress can cause you to view more situations as stressful, as well as limit the ways youre able to respond to stressors.

Developing new ways of reacting to stress could help you build new connections in your brain that, over time, help you cope better. Approaches include:

  • Practicing meditation.Research from 2019 found that 4 days of meditation resulted in changes to the brain that made it more resilient against stress. Even after 3 months, participants had maintained their new mental strength.
  • Using prebiotics. A 2017 animal study suggests prebiotics found in many fermented foods could help people manage stress-related behaviors by keeping the paths on the brain-gut axis healthy and clear.
  • Trying mindfulness-based stress reduction.2016 research found that 8 weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction increased activity in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex while decreasing activity in the amygdala, helping with emotional regulation.
  • Going for a quick jog. Running for just 10 minutes can help boost executive functioning and increase blood flow to the prefrontal cortex.
  • Working with a therapist. Forms of talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy could make the amygdala less reactive, meaning it could slow down your fight, flight, or freeze responses to stress and allow you to form new ways to manage stressors.

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What Does Anxiety Do To Memory And Why

First things first, anxiety isnt likely to have you waking up with full-blown amnesia. It doesnt tend to affect long-term memories. Its your working and short-term memories that might slip under anxietys sweaty yoke.

Theres a reason some peeps describe mild anxiety-related memory loss as being a brain fog.

You might forget stuff like:

  • directions
  • conversations you straight-up know you had
  • dates for engagements and deadlines
  • information youve just read

Anxiety-forgetfulness usually comes with feelings of confusion, dissociation, and concentration difficulties its not your standard total sci-fi alien brain-wipe amnesia. There are a fair few neuroscience reasons for anxietys short-term memory meddling.

If Youre Experiencing Forgetfulness Or Confusion Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Stress, Forgetfulness, & Memory Loss: When Is it Mental Illness?

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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How Can Other Health Conditions Affect My Memory

Memory loss can be a symptom of many health conditions. Common conditions that cause forgetfulness are:

  • depression or anxiety
  • chest and urinary tract infections
  • thyroid problems
  • vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin B12
  • head injuries.

If your memory loss is being caused by a treatable health condition, it can improve with the right support. Talking to your GP can help you get the treatment you need to feel better.

There are also conditions that cause symptoms similar to dementia, but have different causes and require different support. These are:

  • Mild cognitive impairment . This condition causes minor problems with memory or thinking. Unlike dementia, the symptoms are not severe enough to cause problems with a persons daily life. Many people with MCI can manage their symptoms and do not go on to develop dementia.
  • Functional cognitive disorder . This causes problems with thinking and memory. Unlike dementia, FCD symptoms are unlikely to keep getting worse over time. They can even get better with the right support. For more information about FCD, also known as FND, visit:

How Anxiety Can Affect Working Memory

There are several different memory systems in the brain. The long-term memory system helps us remember information and events from the distant past, whereas working memory helps us keep information in mind as we actively use it.

Working memory is critical for solving problems effectively and managing chunks of information in the present. When this system is not operating normally, it can lead to mistakes, difficulty completing tasks properly, difficulty concentrating, and problems multitasking. Working memory is strongly influenced by worry and anxiety.

This can be a major problem in your work and personal life. Worry can hinder your working memory, causing you to forget important tasks or appointments. You may make more mistakes at work or have trouble juggling everything you need to do at home. You might experience lapses such as:

  • Not remembering where you parked your car in a parking lot
  • Frequently losing things, like your keys or your phone
  • Repeating things in conversation because you can’t remember if you already said something
  • Difficulty recalling directions or information someone gives you
  • Trouble remembering items you want to purchase in the store

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Medications That May Affect Memory And Possible Substitutes

If you take these drugs

ask about switching to one of these drugs


another antidepressant such as fluoxetine or sertraline , or a different type of antidepressant such as duloxetine or venlafaxine


Underactive thyroid. A faltering thyroid can affect memory . A simple blood test can tell if your thyroid is doing its job properly.

Alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with short-term memory, even after the effects of alcohol have worn off. Although “too much” varies from person to person, its best to stick with the recommendation of no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one a day for women. One drink is generally defined as 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.

Stress and anxiety. Anything that makes it harder to concentrate and lock in new information and skills can lead to memory problems. Stress and anxiety fill the bill. Both can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memories or the retrieval of old ones.

Depression. Common signs of depression include a stifling sadness, lack of drive, and lessening of pleasure in things you ordinarily enjoy. Forgetfulness can also be a sign of depression or a consequence of it.

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Consider Prioritizing Time To Care For You

Can Depression And Anxiety Make You Forgetful

When were stressed, exploring what fills our cups can help us cope with stressors. Consider thinking about what helps you feel recharged.

If you like, you can write down the activities that recharge you and observe how engaging in these activities makes you feel. This exercise may help improve your memory and reduce your stress.

You may also consider breaking it into different categories, such as:

  • leisure time
  • volunteering

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Other Causes Of Memory Loss

Other reasons you may experience memory loss can include the following:

  • Normal age-related memory loss is common and manageable. One example of this is forgetting where you put your glasses but remembering later in the day.
  • Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia. It can cause progressive, irreparable brain damage and memory loss.
  • Mild cognitive impairment can alter thinking skills and eventually progress to Alzheimers disease or other forms of dementia.
  • Minor head injury or trauma can trigger slight memory problems, even if you didnt lose consciousness.
  • Forgetfulness is a potential side effect of certain medications.
  • Brain tumors or brain infections can affect your memory or trigger dementia-like symptoms.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency can create problems with your memory. This is because youre not maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse can impair your mental state and abilities. This can also occur when alcohol interacts with medications.
  • Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism, which can lead to memory problems and other issues with thinking.
  • Brain or nerve damage caused by diseases such as Parkinsons disease or multiple sclerosis can cause memory problems. A 2013 study found that people with depression have a greater risk of developing Parkinsons disease.

How To Alleviate The Problem

However, it isn’t necessary to tease out all the nuances of stress and memory to realise that too much stress is bad for the system. Dr Yurdakul says, if you’re feeling forgetful, it may help to strive for better emotional regulation.

“Strategies such as meditation, t’ai chi and mindfulness can help reverse the effects of stress and promote a state of relaxation” he says. “Regular engagement in such activities helps form adaptive behaviours that become habitual and build resilience when dealing with stress. Regular exercise or finding fulfilling hobbies can also be very important in promoting enjoyment of life and emotional well-being.”

He adds that how we appraise events is also very important. If we interpret an event as threatening, we’ll experience a physical stress response. However, it’s in our power to reframe how we see things.

“Sometimes it is possible to do this on our own, sometimes with a trusted friend or a relative. Sometimes it may be necessary to see a psychologist or psychotherapist who practises therapies such as CBT or IPT ,” he says. “Making good use of one’s support network is a pivotal strategy for good mental health.”

There are also self-help books that can be invaluable as we move through this process. Dr Graham has written two books, Accept How You Feel and Mind What You Think, which shed light on the underlying patterns behind stress and anxiety.

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When To See Your Doctor About Forgetfulness

Some people who have post-COVID brain fog will improve on their own after a few weeks or months, experts told TODAY previously, and stress-induced memory loss is believed to be temporary.

“Once we get past this transition phase, a lot of that forgetfulness will probably pass,” Mednick said.

But if your symptoms are impacting your everyday life, you should talk to your doctor.

“When this is really starting to impair your ability to do your job, that’s really a sign that this is probably out of the range of normal for you,” Hellmuth explained.

If your doctor determines that your symptoms might be due to your previous COVID-19 infection, they could refer you to a neuropsychologist for more evaluation. Or they may send you to a specialist to receive treatment in the form of cognitive rehabilitation. Some patients also find that playing puzzle games, like Wordle, can help with their symptoms.

But researchers like Mednick and Hellmuth are just beginning to understand how COVID-19 affects the brain and the long-lasting impact the virus can leave on the body. As experts learn more, they may be better able to predict who will and won’t develop post-COVID symptoms like these.


Causes Of Memory Loss

Why Anxiety and Depression Are Connected: Avoidance and Willingness With Painful Emotions

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.

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Finding The Cause Of Memory Loss

If you find that you are increasingly forgetful or if memory problems interfere with your daily life, schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause and best treatment.

To evaluate memory loss, your doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical exam — including a neurologic exam — and ask questions to test mental ability. Depending on the results, further evaluation may include blood and urine tests, nerve tests, and imaging tests of the brain such as computerized axial tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging .

You may also be sent for neuropsychological testing, which is a battery of tests that help pinpoint the memory loss.

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