Four Reasons for Memory Lapses

Here’s a vicious Catch-22 cycle that can hurt our health: Many people worry about getting Alzheimer’s, but excessive worry makes it harder for our brain to repair itself – which makes us more susceptible to developing the disease. Having a “senior moment” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the road to dementia. Here are four reasons for memory lapses that have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s:

  • Depression. According to the University of Rochester's Memory Disorders Clinic, depression is linked to low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical that’s crucial for maintaining focus and concentration. Without it, we can't store new memories.
  • The next memory-sapper: Your medications. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, drugs like antidepressants, sedatives, and cholesterol can interfere with the ability of your brain cells to communicate.
  • The 3rd thing that can make you forgetful: Thyroid problems. Memory issues are often the first symptom of an underactive thyroid. If your mental lapses are accompanied by fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and muscle cramps, get your thyroid tested.
  • The last cause of memory loss that isn't Alzheimer's: Normal aging. Ken Robbins is a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin. He says that it’s normal for someone in their 50s to occasionally forget a name, or an item on their mental shopping list. So how can you tell the difference between normal aging and more serious memory loss? Is it simple: If you notice your forgetfulness, you can breathe easier. People with Alzheimer's often don’t know that they're having memory troubles - so if you're aware of it, you may be just fine.

Comment on this story