Weekly Wellness: Why can't I remember anything?
COLUMBIA- Have you ever found yourself in the middle of telling a story and just can’t remember that one crucial detail… or you just can’t remember that one word? You know, that word that is the easiest word! What the heck is wrong with my brain???” Random lapses in memory can be quite common. In a 2014 study, 14.4% of the 4,425 persons age 18 to 39 self-reported having memory issues.
These days with all of the talk of Alzheimer’s and brain tumors, it’s easy to let our thoughts go to a scary place. But let’s pump the brakes and explore some other potential reasons:
- Your working memory may be overloaded. Short-term memory storage (aka working memory) is limited. Working memory can only contain so much information at a time.
- Your brain is aging. The older we get, the more we can experience memory issues. Word retrieval deficit (the word is in your head but your mouth isn’t getting it) isn’t necessarily concerning – just frustrating and a little bit annoying.
- You’re dealing with depression. There is a theory that brain changes can be connected to depression and may specifically influence memory. Glutamate (a neurotransmitter that is central to memory) may be implicated in depression. Also, research reviews have shown that people with depression are more likely to have decreased volume in their hippocampus (the part of the brain which creates and stores new memories).
- Your medication could be doing it. Some medication can cause you to feel groggy and cause forgetfulness. Ask your physician or pharmacist.
- You’re not getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep can truly impact your brain functionality. While you sleep, your brain is creating and maintaining pathways that help you to learn and make new memories. If you don’t get enough REM and non-REM sleep, you are doing your brain a disservice.
- You have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of ADHD, discuss with your physician.
- You (may) have something more serious. If you have explored all other possibilities and you still feel you are experiencing memory issues, it may be time to discuss dementia with your physician.
If you are experiencing memory lapses, pay attention to the other factors in your life and don’t let panic set in. For me, sleep tends to be the culprit.