7 Prevalent Reasons for Forgetfulness That Have Nothing to Do with Alzheimer’s Disease

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Forgetfulness can be commonplace, especially when you find yourself in a rush to get things done. But while it’s normal to forget things every once in a while – like where you left your car keys last, or needing to replace yet another set of reading glasses. But when it actually becomes a problem, you need to look into the potential reasons as to why you seem to be more forgetful or why your memory has been so bad lately. But before you start spiraling into a state of worry that you could be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, know that chronic forgetfulness doesn’t always equate to that. Here are 7 commonplace reasons that could be causing constant forgetfulness and memory loss. 

1. It Could Be Your Medication

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According to neuropsychologist at Stanford Health Care, Lauren Drag, Ph.D., “If you’re concerned with your memory, one of the first things to do is to review your medication list with your physician.” A number of over-the-counter (OCT) and prescription drugs can actually contribute to memory loss, especially anticholinergics. These types of drugs can interfere with your acetylcholine, which is the neurotransmitter in your brain. 

These kinds of medications include reflux meds like Zantac, muscle spasm meds like Flexiril, antihistamines like Benadryl, and Paxil and Elavil which treat depression, which are all considered anticholinergics. Medical professionals also warn to look out for sedatives including Valium, particular blood pressure medications, and other types of pain medications as well. When taking prescribed drugs, speak to your doctor if you feel like your memory is being affected. You might want to ask if there is an alternative you can take instead.

2. You’re Constantly Stressed


Stress is a huge contributing factor when it comes to brain fog and the inability to remember or memorize information. Dr. Drag iterates, “Someone who is feeling anxious can have difficulty following a conversation because he or she is ruminating over a worrisome topic.” And when it comes to severe stress, the issue can become even worse. Drag also shares, “It can have a significant impact on the brain, presumably through long-term exposure to hormones that are released during periods of stress.” Even rudimentary tasks like taking care of the household bills or remembering busy schedules becomes increasingly difficult. She adds, “Juggling multiple tasks at once, staying up late to finish tasks, not exercising and not eating well – all of these factors can increase forgetfulness.”

3. You Have an Undiagnosed or Chronic Health Issue


There are a number of health issues that can affect the supply of blood to the brain including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which can cause mental blocks or memory loss. Dr. Drag shares, “A variety of health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, vitamin deficiencies, and hormone imbalances can also cause memory problems. In older adults in particular, urinary tract infections can cause sudden and temporary confusion.” In order to know for sure, she suggests seeing your doctor to get a physical checkup to find out if you have any underlying health conditions. There’s a possibility that you just need a vitamin supplement to help increase brainpower and memory.

4. You’ve Been Consuming Too Much Alcohol


Admittedly, almost everyone that’s old enough to drink has had that one night where they’ve gotten so incredibly drunk they can’t recall what happened the night before, at least until it all comes rushing back at one point or another. But for hardcore drinkers, memory loss can become much more frequent, even when they’re not drinking. According to Dr. Drag, “Interestingly, research has shown that sobriety can lead to a temporary worsening in memory and thinking, as you go through a detox period.” Unfortunately, Drag also explains that many life-long alcohol abusers don’t get that sharpness back, while others can expect that it could take days, weeks or even months, depending on the abuse. 

5. You’re Extremely Exhausted 


Regardless of whether you are getting 8 hours of sleep at night, it’s really the quality of sleep that equates to a good night’s sleep. Studies show that those that lack enough time in deep sleep actually struggle when it comes to memory and forgetfulness. Thankfully, there are a few simple things that can be done to help boost brainpower. In fact, even a 6 minute powernap can do the trick if it’s just a bit of rest that you really need. But Dr. Drag also says that if these quick naps don’t work for you, and you’re waking up more tired than before, go and get yourself checked for the possibility of a deeper health issue. “Sleep apnea, for example, can deprive the brain of oxygen and lead to changes in the blood supply to the brain which over time can negatively impact memory and thinking abilities,” she says.  

6. You’re Depressed

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Depression can have a ton of side effects, and one of them is the inability to focus on things even when they’re right in front of you. When this happens, attempting to recall them later on becomes basically impossible, which also leads to some major frustration. Dr. Drag shares, “Research suggests that it can be associated with changes in the size and functioning of brain regions that are important to skills such as memory, the speed at which we think, attention, and problem-solving ability.” Plus if you think you are suffering from deep depression, it is always best to see a medical professional to get the immediate care and treatment that’s right for you. 

7.You’re Getting Older (Whether You Like It Or Not) 

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Everyone begins the aging process from the very first day they are born. And as you age, just like how the rest of your body begins to show signs of getting older, so does your brain. Although Alzheimer’s disease becomes a factor once you hit 65 and above, mild forgetfulness is quite common as well. Dr. Drag explains, “The most common complaints I see from older adults are that they have difficulty coming up with words and walk into a room and forget why they are there. These lapses can certainly be normal.”

But while memory lapses are common,  when they reach a point where your normal, everyday life is being affected, it’s time to see a doctor to find out the exact cause. According to Dr. Drag, “An isolated incident of missing an exit or turning the wrong way when driving a new route isn’t unusual. But if you’re frequently getting lost while driving, particularly in familiar locations, talk with your doctor.” In the meantime, exercise your brain by doing crossword puzzles or other types of brain games, eat more brain food and lessen your intake of alcohol and sugar, and make sure that you stay as physical as possible to maintain better memory function regardless of your age.