Woman struggling with memory loss as she holds her hand to her head.

Memory Loss and Stress – Working with Your Primary Care Provider to Find Answers

Many treatable medical problems can cause reversible memory loss, including stress, anxiety and depression. COVID-19 and its effects left in its wake an increase in mental health issues. Though the end of the pandemic is in sight, experts anticipate a long-term impact on people’s mental health. Adjusting to changes in our schedules, new mask mandates, and new social obligations can also lead to additional stress and anxiety as we explore our lives after COVID.

Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause forgetfulness. Many treatable medical issues can cause memory issues. Often those with memory issues feel afraid to speak with doctors and assume they could have Alzheimer’s or other neurological issues.

Patients can put their fears aside with a visit to their primary care provider, who can ask various questions and conduct a “mini-mental” assessment which can yield helpful information and clues towards diagnosis. Other tests and evaluation can be ordered to rule out several treatable medical issues.  According to the Mayo Clinic, possible causes of reversible memory loss include:

  • Medications. Certain medications or a combination of medications can cause forgetfulness or confusion.
  • Minor head trauma or injury.  A head injury from a fall or accident — even if you don’t lose consciousness — can cause memory problems.
  • Emotional disorders. Stress, anxiety, or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities.
  • Alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair mental abilities. Alcohol can also cause memory loss by interacting with medications.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency.  Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency — common in older adults — can cause memory problems.
  • Hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can result in forgetfulness and other thinking problems.
  • Brain diseases. A tumor or infection in the brain can cause memory problems or other dementia-like symptoms.

Patients of Roseman Medical Group should bring their concerns to their primary care provider. Patients should not fear the worst in noting recent memory loss as there are many causes that with the right diagnosis, can be addressed.

Article by Vanessa Maniago

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