What Causes Memory Problems and Are They a Sign of Dementia?
Many things cause memory problems and the key point to understand is that not all memory problems are caused by Dementia.
Reason #1) Normal Aging: We ALL experience some mild memory changes as we age. However, if you suspect you have more memory loss than expected, consult your doctor for further testing.
Reason #2) Sleep Problems: Sleep deprivation is a very common cause of memory problems.
There are three sleep patterns that can cause memory problems and they are; not enough total sleep, poor quality of sleep (due to things like sleep apnea, restless legs, back pain) or erratic sleep patterns.
Reason #3) Depression: Depression causes poor concentration and if you have poor concentration you are more likely to forget things because you never processed them fully in the first place.
Reason #4) Anxiety: Anxiety can lead to poor attention because you are preoccupied with anxious thoughts. While you are preoccupied with those anxious thoughts, you aren’t paying attention to things that you may want or need to remember.
Reason #5) ADD/ADHD: Forgetfulness is a key feature of ADD/ADHD and in most cases adults go untreated for years if at all. If your forgetfulness is causing problems at work or at home you should see a specialist and get tested for ADD/ADHD.
Reason #6) Substances: Many substances can cause memory loss and the most common ones are alcohol and marijuana.
Reason #7) Medications: Many medications can cause memory loss and some are specifically used to cause memory loss during surgery or uncomfortable procedures. The most common medications that cause memory loss are benzodiazepines such as: ativan, valium, xanax, and klonopin. Also pain medications such as oxycodone, percocet, as well as sleep medications such as ambien, lunesta, etc. cause memory loss.
Reason #8) Medical Problems: There are several medical issues that can cause memory problems such as strokes, living in special care units or other post-operative states. One of the most common reasons for memory loss, especially in the elderly is due to infections. Infections can cause confusion and memory loss.
Reason #9) Dementia: Many people believe that memory loss is only due to Dementia and this is just not true. There are different types of Dementia, Alzheimers being the most common and typically they are in older people but there are some early-onset variants.
Of course, if you suspect this, you should be evaluated by your primary care physician first to rule out some of the above-mentioned causes of memory loss.
As always we hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions for our doctors please do not hesitate to contact us.
Here’s to Your Mental Health,
Dr. Jennie Byrne