Causes of Memory Loss

Tess Thompson

Lapses of attention are part of everyone’s life, as are glitches in memory. Such lapses can be cognitively debilitating at times. While memory lapses are common and can happen with anyone, it is only when intervals between such episodes become very short that it is construed as impairment.

Memory loss, total or partial, is termed as amnesia. It is an abnormal degree of forgetfulness or an inability to recall past events. Memory loss may be temporary or permanent, sudden or gradual, or limited to an inability to recall recent events or events of the distant past. Memory loss may begin with occasional lapses and slowly progress into a serious condition. Much depends upon the cause of memory loss.

The normal aging process does cause mental deterioration that can affect the ability of the brain to retain memory, but age is not by itself the cause of memory loss unless it is accompanied by a disease that causes loss of memory specifically. Fortunately, preventing memory loss is possible and is actually extremely easy. All that one needs is to be aware of the fact that the slow decline in bodily systems, functions and mental abilities is inevitable. It is therefore important to start taking some steps to ensure sustainability of memory to whatever extent possible. The first step is to identify the underlying cause of memory loss.

There are multiple causes of memory loss, which include chronic stress, physiological and psychological disorders, trauma and drug or substance abuse. Stress could be one of the causes of memory loss. When you are stressed, tired or angry, it becomes difficult to recall something. The human body has strange ways of protecting its functions. It inhibits memory recall because it senses that the mind is already overworked and should be protected from further burden. The moment you are back to your normal relaxed state, it becomes easy to remember things that were evading your memory when you were stressed.

Besides stress, there are a number of medical conditions that can seriously cause memory problems. Alzheimer’s disease, a brain tumor, encephalitis, meningitis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, thyroid disease and neurosyphilis can all lead to varying degrees of memory loss. Another cause is local anemia in a given body part that sometimes results from vasoconstriction, thrombosis or embolism. Psychological causes include depression, anxiety and panic disorders. Other possible causes include malnutrition, exposure to toxins and head trauma.

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