Do you often forget a meeting or do not remember where you kept your keys? Most older adults consider them as signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But thankfully, Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of memory problems. Forgetfulness and memory problems can occur at any age and due to various reasons and are usually treatable when the cause is known. Memory loss can be frustrating and can trigger fears of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But, taking several medications, depression, poor sleep, vitamin B12 deficiency, head injuries, strokes, alcohol abuse, brain tumors, thyroid disorders, stress, and anxiety can also lead to memory complaints.
Let us look at the most surprising causes of memory loss.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are often ignored or misdiagnosed in older adults, which is the leading cause of memory problems. Depression can be due to different factors and can manifest in various ways. Chronic pain or illness, the death of spouses or friends, boredom, and isolation are the main factors that affect body and brain chemistry and can result in memory loss and mood swings. The good news is depression is a very treatable disease, and various therapeutic and medical treatment options are available. Too much stress or anxiety can also have similar effects. Such people can improve memory by easing stress.
2. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can also result in dementia-like symptoms, including poor judgment and mood swings. This is because vitamin B12 plays an important role in maintaining normal brain function. Meat, poultry, milk, and eggs contain vitamin B12, but excess stomach acids, medications for proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, type 2 diabetes, and alcoholism can deplete the amount of this vitamin from the body. When left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause brain shrinkage, confusion, depression, and memory loss.
Older adults invariably take an increasing number of medicines, which can cause cognitive problems. Antidepressants, hypertension drugs, painkillers, anti-epileptic medications, antipsychotics, and certain other drugs can also affect memory by causing confusion or sedation. If you feel that your memory is getting affected after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor, who will prescribe alternative drugs.
The hormones released by the thyroid gland helps our body process food and promotes organ function. When the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient hormones, called hypothyroidism, it can result in memory problems, depression, and tiredness. You can check the levels of thyroid hormones by a simple blood test. If the levels are low, your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone supplements.
5. Alcohol or Drug Abuse
Overusing alcohol or drugs for a long period can damage the brain, which can result in short or long-term memory loss, psychosis, and other cognitive declines. Getting help early might reverse memory problems due to drug or alcohol addiction. And the best way to prevent this is by sticking to the recommended drinks per day.
Consult a doctor online if you are concerned about your memory so that the cause can be determined and treated.