Everyday factors and circumstances often help bring about lapses in memory. Although memory fades with age or due to an illness such as dementia, some common causes of forgetfulness may not always be linked to dementia.
Here are eight of the most common causes of forgetfulness:
Alcohol: People who say they "drink to forget" may have a point. Consuming too much alcohol can interfere with short-term memory, even after the effects of the booze have worn off, according to Harvard Health Publications.
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Medications: Tranquilizers, antidepressants, some blood pressure drugs and other medications can affect memory, usually by causing sedation or confusion, according to Harvard Health Publications. Some prescription drugs — especially sleep medications — can cause forgetfulness as a side effect, says Everyday Health.
Insufficient sleep: Not getting enough sleep is perhaps the greatest unappreciated cause of memory slips. Too little restful sleep can lead to mood changes and anxiety, which in turn contribute to problems with memory.
Depression: Memory slips can be a sign of depression — or a consequence of it. Common signs of depression include a stifling sadness, a lack of drive and a lessening of pleasure in things a person ordinarily enjoys.
Menopause: A study published in 2012 in the North American Menopause Society's journal analyzed the memory performance of 75 middle-aged women who were transitioning into menopause and found about two-thirds complained of memory problems or lapses during that time, reports CNN.
The study also showed a decline in attention capabilities among those women.
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Stress and anxiety: Factors such as stress and anxiety — which make it harder to concentrate and lock in new information and skills — can lead to memory problems. Stress and anxiety can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memories or the retrieval of old ones.
Underactive thyroid: A faltering thyroid can affect memory, disturb sleep and cause depression, with the latter two both contributing to memory slips. A simple blood test can tell if a person's thyroid is doing its job properly.
Insufficient nutrition: A poor diet results in general sluggishness, which hinders a person's ability to think and remember clearly. A person's brain is negatively impacted when his or her body doesn't get an adequate supply of energy and nutrients.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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