What Causes Memory Lapses? Are you Forgetful?


Everyone forgets things at times. How often have you misplaced your car keys or forgotten the password of your email?

Some degree of memory problems, as well as a modest decline in other thinking skills, is a fairly common part of aging. There's a difference, however, between normal changes in memory and memory lapses associated with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. And some memory problems are the result of treatable conditions.

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

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


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. Illicit 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.

Underactive thyroid. A faltering thyroid can affect memory (as well as disturb sleep and cause depression, both of which can be causes of forgetfulness). A simple blood test can tell if your thyroid is doing its job properly.


Bottom line:

Take care of your brain.

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