7 Common Causes of Forgetfulness

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 (benzodiazepines), which have been found to harm the brain and 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 serious condition 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. One study in Nature Neuroscience found that in elderly people, a lack of deep sleep caused a 55% drop in memory the next day. Other research in Nature Neuroscience shows that sleep, and especially slow-wave sleep, is critical for memory consolidation regardless of a person’s age.

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 can cause symptoms often seen in dementia, such as cognitive impairment and brain fog. In fact, research shows that more than 80% of people with low-grade hypothyroidism have impaired memory function. Brain imaging research, including a 2014 study in Thyroid, found decreased brain volume in the hippocampus in people with low thyroid levels. The hippocampus is a brain structure involved in memory and learning.

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. A 2020 survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. shows that 6 in 10 Americans experience “multitasking-induced forgetfulness.” The top 3 things people forget, according to the survey, are passwords, items they need while grocery shopping, and where they put their keys.

Solution: If you want to have better recall, pay attention to the 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.

Solution: Healing the underlying brain trauma with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, and other therapies can help restore cognitive function.

5. Your Medicine Cabinet

Many common 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. In findings released at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019, older adults who said they used sleep medications “almost always” or “often” were 43% more likely to develop dementia compared with seniors who never or only rarely took them. 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 ADD/ADHD—including short attention span, distractibility, and disorganization—may contribute to problems with recall. Typically, people with this common condition struggle with short-term memory or working memory rather than long-term memory. A 2012 review in Clinical Psychology Review found that children with ADD/ADHD have statistically significant issues with working memory compared with healthy peers. Newer findings from a 2020 study suggest that it’s the attention-related encoding and retrieval processes that are compromised in individuals with ADD/ADHD. This results in an inability to prioritize important information.

Solution: Treating ADD/ADHD, naturally or with medication, may improve focus, attention, and organization.

7. Untreated Depression

Research, including a 2018 study in Psychological Medicine, shows 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, according to findings in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Some researchers believe that late-life depression may, in fact, be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. One-third of all patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are reported to suffer from depression, which then accelerates the progression to full-blown dementia, according to a 2017 study in JAMA Psychiatry

Solution: Treating depression is critical to keep your memory sharp. Understand that depression is not just one thing. There are 7 types of the condition that each requires their own unique treatment plans. Knowing your type is key to finding the solutions that will help you feel happier and more hopeful.

Memory loss and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. We also offer a comprehensive Memory Rescue Program to find the root causes of memory loss and treat them accordingly. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


<div class="embed-container" style="margin-top: 50px;"><a href="https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/7-common-causes-of-forgetfulness/" target="_blank"><img src="https://www.amenclinics.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/ACI_Forgetfulness_Infographic-page-001.jpg" style="width: 100%; height: auto;"></a><a href="https://www.amenclinics.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/ACI_Forgetfulness_Infographic.pdf" target="_blank">Download PDF</a></div>


  1. One thing you might add to this list (if it is indeed a factor you have discovered in your research) is sudden and great emotional trauma. Ten years ago, when I was 42, both of my parents suddenly perished in a head-on collision with a half-ton truck on the highway driving home from Toronto, Canada. Of course, my sisters and I were suddenly thrown into chaos, required to multi-task on a variety of things connected to finding out how it happened (still inconclusive) and arrange funerals, etc. My sleep was undoubtedly not very restful and I certainly went through a depression but I felt the sudden trauma was the factor that really made my head spin, so to speak. On top of it all, my sisters and I were living in different cities at the time and I was living on the other side of the world in Tokyo. I found my memory becoming worse and worse over the course of the two to three or four years following the emotional trauma. Of course, I’m growing older (yes, we all are) and my memory has never returned to the pre-trauma phase, but I did notice a great and sudden deterioration in those initial years that I was never really able to recover from.

    Comment by Ally MacKenzie — June 12, 2019 @ 3:52 AM

  2. Wonder is severe emotional trauma has the kind of impact physical trauma can?

    Comment by Mike — June 12, 2019 @ 2:30 PM

  3. I came to your Clinic in Reston, and had a full spect study. I have had lifelong ADD; have had a head trauma hitting the windshield of a car in an accident, I was further tested with a Qeeg study, and was told I had brain spikes. i wrote to dr. jorandby to see if your clinic ever worked with anyone with spikes & if so what has been learned about spikes in your clinic, but heard nothing in return. i hoped that Amen Clinic might start to include the effects of brain spikes in a study and write about them for the benefit of people with that added complication within the brain.

    I remain very upset that you have not studied the effects of spikes in the brain, or written about them, and I heard from no one..

    Sally S. Thompson, Pennsylvania.

    Comment by sally s thompson — June 30, 2019 @ 7:39 PM

  4. Does grief cause memory loss??
    Does tiredness from inability to sleep well cause memory loss?
    Does overwork caused by the loss of other close work colleagues and friends which drastically increases workoad cause memory loss?
    Does stress from the lack of compassion of your partner cause memory loss especially if he is quick to be angry if you can’t answer straight away.
    If I can memorise 2 hours worth of music to conduct a choir and orchestra remembering all their entries show that your memory is competent
    Does being able to teach full time without forgetting a complicated rolling timetable mean that your memory is competent
    Does being able to learn and memorise a complicated piano accompaniment of professional standard and then adjust during performance when soloist counts incorrectly or misses a beat mean your memory is competent

    Comment by Helen Marcus — August 12, 2019 @ 11:33 AM

  5. Ally – yes sudden trama affects brain. I have studied Dr Amen, Dr Joe Despensa . As a layman I can share what I have read . All trama affects brain . Whether it sticks as a learned synaptic pattern seems to lock in 2 ways . Repetition ( someone saying you are stupid over and over – or a big trama like seeing a bear in woods. When they lock in they are called Hebian Synapses ! After Dr Hebb?

    The brain functions in set ways that have variables . The damage to brain trama depends on amplitude.

    Or so I have discovered in reading Amen, Despenza , and Bruce Lipton etc

    Look for ways to support feeling better.

    Mike , Hellen etc . Trama all the same . Acordi g to experts the brain adjusts as needed by amplitude and coherence ( balance) . So sure spikes, trama Etc are supported by what the docs organize for you
    Or so that’s best I can find out

    Get a good review of brain . Find out of balance area s and see if you can do the things that will help

    Bob Offer

    Comment by Bob Offer — October 28, 2019 @ 5:53 AM

  6. Ally, I pray my comment won’t create any sad emotions in your heart and mind of remembering that tragic time , but , I felt your pain so deep in my heart as I read your experience that I felt such a need to let you know how truly sorry I’am you went through such a nightmare. You must be a very loving and strong person , and I will think of you often and pray that you continue to keep looking forward and use the remarkable strength you have to encourage and help other loved family members that will need someone like you to get through unforseen crisis that comes in our lives. You sharing you experience surely helped me to be so encouraged…I have a daughter that was in an car accident at age 20 , even though she did recover from the coma and learn to walk and talk ,again, she has lived in the most unbearable head pain every day for over 25 years from her head injury, with memory loss so much she can’t relate very well with people, and everyday events, without extreme frustration and uncontrollable out burst, that she doesn’t understand. She like you has shown great stamina and courage, and keeps trying to do her very best each morning she wakes up. Thank you so much for continuing to keep going forward , even though it had to be very difficult at times, and live this precious life we have been given , at a great cost , to help others know, with deep love we can do anything. Thank you so much for yours. Sincerely , Ali

    Comment by Ali — October 29, 2019 @ 1:46 AM

  7. My first head injury at 2 years old with 36 hours of unconsciousness. And many more over the years I’m sure these have had a intense affect on my Brain. Current tests show Brain shrinkage, memory impairment, lack of executive function and more. As well as disk and vertebra damage in the neck that gives intense headaches. I am using a few supplements that have had some good changes noticed by friends.

    Comment by David Hayes — October 29, 2019 @ 8:19 AM

  8. Am having trouble with my memory which is leading me to forget things fast

    Comment by Mugaya Ali — February 7, 2023 @ 8:39 AM

  9. Right here is the right bkog for everyone who wants to understand
    this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject that has bsen written about for decades.
    Wonderful stuff, just excellent!

    Comment by mommy makeover türkei — November 27, 2023 @ 5:03 AM

  10. Thanks forr finally writing about >7 Commokn Causes
    of Forgetfulness | Ameen Clinics Amen Clinics <Loved it!

    Comment by random team generator — December 10, 2023 @ 5:00 AM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Contact Us