7 Common Causes of Forgetfulness
David was struggling with his memory along with other issues and was growing concerned about it. Afraid his forgetfulness was a sign of dementia, he went for a brain imaging test called SPECT to see what was really happening in his brain. David’s brain scan looked toxic, and it turned out he was taking a cocktail of medications, including antianxiety pills, which have been found to accelerate memory problems. Making adjustments to his medications made a huge difference in his memory.
If you can’t remember where you left your keys, if you blank on your neighbor’s name, or if you forget to pick up bananas at the grocery store, you may be wondering if it’s a memory problem or just everyday forgetfulness. Many people worry that Alzheimer’s disease may be the underlying cause of their memory issues, but there are several causes of forgetfulness that are far more common…and far easier to fix.
Seven Causes of Forgetfulness
1. Not Enough Zzzzz’s
A number of studies link sleep problems to a higher risk of memory issues. Scientists have found that while you sleep, your brain cleans out toxins that build up throughout the day. Without adequate sleep, the brain’s waste management crew does not have enough time to do its job and trash piles up, causing brain fog and memory problems.
Solution: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Create a nighttime routine to help promote restful sleep.
2. Underactive Thyroid
SPECT scans of people with low levels of thyroid hormone show overall decreased brain activity, which often leads to cognitive impairment and brain fog. In fact, research shows that more than 80 percent of people with low-grade hypothyroidism have impaired memory function.
Solution: Get your thyroid levels checked and optimize them if necessary.
3. Too Much Multitasking
In some cases, forgetfulness may have less to do with memory problems and more to do with distractions. Research shows that juggling too many tasks takes a toll on the brain’s memory centers. If you’re watching TV while playing a game on your tablet while you’re having a conversation with your spouse, it’s no wonder you may be having trouble remembering what they say.
Solution: If you want to have better recall, pay attention to information you want to remember. Put your phone down, mute the TV, and listen.
4. Head Trauma
A single fall off your bike, a slip off a ladder, or a car accident that causes you to hit your head can have lasting consequences on your memory. Many people don’t connect the dots from a head injury that may have occurred weeks, months, or even years earlier to forgetfulness.
5. Your Medicine Cabinet
Many medications—such as sleep aids, cholesterol-lowering drugs, or those anti-anxiety pills like David was taking—can mess with your memory. For example, sleeping pills act on brain pathways involved in the memory-making process. Cholesterol is critical for healthy brain functioning and decreased levels can interfere with memory. And benzodiazepines for anxiety lower activity in areas of the brain involved in memory formation.
Solution: Talk to your doctor about treatment methods that don’t compromise brain activity and memory.
6. Untreated ADHD
A lack of focus is a common sign of ADD/ADHD, but many people don’t realize that forgetfulness can also be a symptom of the condition. Some of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD, including short attention span, distractibility, and disorganization, may contribute to problems with recall.
Solution: Treating ADHD, naturally or with medication, may improve focus, attention, and organization.
7. Untreated Depression
Studies have shown that untreated depression significantly increases the risk of memory problems. In fact, depression doubles the risk of cognitive impairment in women and quadruples it in men.
Solution: Treating depression is critical to keep your memory sharp.
If you are experiencing forgetfulness that doesn’t improve with lifestyle changes, it’s important to seek help. At Amen Clinics, we use leading-edge brain imaging technology called SPECT along with other assessments to evaluate the underlying causes of memory issues. Our Memory Rescue program has helped many patients improve cognitive function and memory. Reach out today to speak with a specialist at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.