Foggy brains and occasional forgetfulness are perfectly normal. However, there is a point where consistent and repeated memory glitches are a cause for concern. Anything from lack of sleep or hormone imbalance to poor diet and medically-rooted issues can lead to forgetfulness or full-blown memory loss.
7 Common Causes of Memory Loss
Here are seven of women’s most common causes of forgetfulness or short-term memory loss.
1. Perimenopause or menopause
The hormone fluctuations associated with perimenopause and menopause cause multiple side effects. The most common things are hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability. However, general fogginess and forgetfulness are also linked to menopause.
Dips in estrogen are known to affect brain function. If you’re experiencing symptoms of (peri)menopause, speak to your OB/GYN about recent memory lapses. Forgetting a word here and there, misplacing the keys, and an inability to recall a person’s name are par for the course. Some women choose to bide their time and wait it out. Others use hormone replacement therapy to stabilize hormone levels. Your doctor will discuss your options.
Ever heard the term “pregnancy brain?” It was created for a reason. The same hormone surges and estrogen dips associated with menopause also cause forgetfulness during pregnancy. Your body is doing amazing work growing a human inside of you, so a few memory lapses here and there are to be expected. Make sure to attend all prenatal appointments to ensure pregnancy-related symptoms or discomfort are in the normal range.
3. Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep has the same effect on memory as drug and alcohol use. Lack of sleep is also associated with anxiety and moodiness/irritability. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to keep your brain functioning in high gear.
4. Medication side effects
Unless you read all of the fine print on your prescription medication(s), you may have missed that forgetfulness or fogginess is one of them. Or, if you take more than one medication, their interaction may also lead to memory loss. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, sleep aids, and medications treating blood pressure are some of the most common drugs that cause sedation or confusion.
Some of the most common medications connected to memory issues are:
● Ditropan or Detrol, or Detrusitol
● Certain allergy pills or antihistamines
Review medications and supplements with your pharmacist or healthcare provider to see if they may be part of the problem. Often, a simple switch to an alternative option resolves the issue.
5. Stress and anxiety
When you feel stress or anxiety, the “monkey mind” spends lots of extra energy spinning the wheels to find solutions. This can lead to more stress and anxiety, linked to forgetfulness. These two culprits are also known to impact sleep, further compounding the problem negatively.
Speak openly to your doctor if you are under higher-than-normal stress or pressure. We’ll work with you to find natural stress management tools to get you back in balance again.
Like stress and anxiety, depression does a number on brain function. People who are depressed commonly report forgetfulness or memory loss as part of the journey. If you’ve recently had a baby, your forgetfulness could result from postpartum depression, so check in with your healthcare provider to rule that out. We’re here to make you feel seen, heard, and supported.
7. Alcohol or drug consumption
Drinking leads to mental fogginess, and that tendency increases with age. We often hear patients in their 40s and 50s claiming they suffer the effects of too much wine or a night out far more than they did in their 20s and 30s. This is partially due to the hormonal changes listed above.
Eliminate alcohol from your life for a few weeks or a month and see if that helps. We recommend doing the same if you use recreational drugs, including marijuana/CBD. If you are addicted, or it’s harder to stop than expected, confide in your doctor, and we’ll support you as you seek successful cessation tools or programs.
When to Be Concerned About Memory Loss
Always connect with your doctor if you experience unusual forgetfulness or memory loss episodes. While these are some of the most common causes, other medical conditions could be the cause. Memory loss is not considered “normal” or “nothing to worry about” when you regularly:
● Forget words or cannot complete sentences
● Have trouble following conversations
● Take longer to complete everyday tasks due to forgetfulness
● Place things in the wrong location (milk in the pantry or wallet in the fridge)
● Getting lost in familiar places or along familiar routes
● Struggle to follow written instructions or recipes
Schedule an Appointment with Overlake OB/GYN
Want to check in about recent forgetfulness or memory loss? Schedule an appointment with Overlake OB/GYN. We’ll take a comprehensive look at your medical history and current life experience to get to the heart of things.