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Memory Problems: What Causes Memory Loss & Forgetfulness?

Memory Problems: What Causes Memory Loss & Forgetfulness?

850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia. Unfortunately, this condition, caused by Alzheimer’s Disease, is set to increase rapidly: It is estimated that over one million people will have dementia by 2025, and by 2050 this will double to two million.

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition which tends to affect people later in life, however, more than 42,000 people under the age of 65 are living with dementia in the UK. If you’re a bit forgetful, there’s no need to panic – everyone forgets things from time to time. As we age, experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is quite normal; it takes longer for the brain to recall information and becomes more difficult to retain information. If you’re having trouble recalling and remembering things, there is a chance it could be Alzheimers, but it’s also possible that there is an alternative reason behind your memory problems.

What can affect my memory?

You may be surprised to know that depression and anxiety can both have a significant impact on your memory and ability to remember.

Vitamin deficiencies, grief, a lack of sleep and some medications like antidepressants (including paroxetine and amitriptyline) can also have an effect on short term memory.

Memory Problems: What Causes Memory Loss & Forgetfulness?

Memory and depression

There are many unpleasant symptoms of depression. If you’ve experienced depression it’s likely you’ll be all too familiar with the ‘mental fog’ that descends. It can make seemingly insignificant tasks seem like the most challenging of mountains to climb.

“I often have patients who tell me that they don’t feel like they are able to function properly. They detail forgetting things, have a harder time concentrating, are unable to remember simple things and find once easy tasks more challenging.” explains Dr Rafael Euba, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre.

Many studies have demonstrated that depression has a negative impact on memory. For example, a study in Psychological Medicine demonstrated that patients with depression do not perform as well in memory based tasks when compared to those without depression. The researchers of this study concluded that depression based memory problems are a result of a reduction in the speed at which the brain processes information. When depressed, the brain’s working memory capacity isn’t as it should be and as such can impact how information is remembered. A different study by University of Texas has shown that participants with a depressed mood had up to 12% reduction in memory compared to those without.

One of the more common symptoms of depression, having trouble sleeping, brings its own problems – it can exacerbate memory issues and can make remembering a challenge. Although research is limited in the area, sleep is necessary in order for the brain to process memories and so a lack of sleep is thought to impact this. Limiting caffeine, getting plenty of exercise and switching off technology and screens an hour before bed are quick, easy ways to help improve your quality of sleep.

Memory problems, when caused by depression, will usually go away once the depression is in remission. Although the condition will often be treated with a combination of antidepressants and counselling, for some these do not have the desired effect. Patients can also experience side effects from medication which means they are not able to continue taking them. At The London Psychiatry Centre and at our partner clinic in Newcastle upon Tyne, we also offer the drug-free treatment for depression, repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS).

rTMS is a very effective non-invasive treatment for treatment-resistant depression, providing relief when traditional methods have been unsuccessful. Used widely across the USA, our clinic was the first to introduce rTMS in the UK. We have treated the most patients of any clinic in the UK; we also boast the best success rate of any clinic in the UK through the use of our unique, patented protocol. Two thirds of patients recover from depression with rTMS at The London Psychiatry Centre, compared with a third of patients at other clinics.

If you’re experiencing mental fog and antidepressants just aren’t working for you, please don’t hesitate to call our admin team on 020 7580 4224 or email info@psychiatrycentre.co.uk and they will be happy to book you in for an initial consultation for rTMS or answer any questions you may have. As we are a private clinic, we don’t have a waiting list and so access to treatment is swift.

Memory, stress and anxiety

The relationship between stress and memory is complex; in order to remember things the brain needs to process memories – this involves many different steps. Although a small amount of stress can improve your memory, in high doses, and for prolonged periods of time, it can have a negative impact on your cognitive processes and function.

Stress requires a lot of resources from the brain and this can interfere with the brain’s capacity to remember new information and the processing of memories. Patients experiencing stress and anxiety often find it difficult to sleep and as mentioned above, this can also contribute to problems with memory.

When you feel anxious, this causes the body’s stress hormone (cortisol) level to increase. High levels of cortisol can make it more difficult to recall memories, studies have shown.

Additionally, one of the main symptoms of anxiety is racing thoughts, and when you have many thoughts running through your mind this can make it difficult to focus on what you’re trying to remember.

Ultimately, in cases where stress and/or anxiety is the cause of memory issues, understanding the root cause is the first step on the road to improving your memory. Once the cause has been acknowledged, you can take steps to combat it. Once the stress and anxiety is reduced, memory should improve. Not only this, but it will also increase your quality of life.

When should you get help for memory problems?

Are you not remembering things that happened recently? Perhaps forgetting conversations? Do you also lose things and have difficulty speaking or finding the right words?

No matter your age, if you have any concerns about your memory it’s best to speak to a medical professional, whether that’s your GP or a memory specialist. Here at The London Psychiatry Centre, you’ll be seen by a psychiatrist who will assess your memory and ascertain if there are any psychological issues that may be affecting your brain’s ability to function and remember.

We are known for our thorough and multifaceted approach – if we diagnose a condition affecting your memory you’ll have the full support of our mental health team which is comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, physicians, nutritionists and more.

Are you worried about your memory? Help for memory problems.

Our specialists will put into place a carefully constructed treatment plan tailored to you for the best possible results. As a private psychiatry clinic in London we are able to offer help without the wait. Simply call our friendly administration team on 020 7580 4224 – they will be happy to answer any questions you may have and to book you in for an appointment.

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