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What Is the Connection Between Anxiety and Memory Loss?

Anxiety can cause difficulty concentrating.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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The connection between anxiety and memory loss is that some of the side effects that come from experiencing frequent anxiety can lead to memory loss. When an individual experiences anxiety, the stress hormone cortisol is released, among others. This stress hormone serves a necessary purpose in daily life, allowing one to quickly respond to dangerous situations and to make snap decisions. If it is constantly released into the brain, however, it can begin to slow the communication between neurotransmitters, leading to more frequent anxiety and concurrent memory loss.

Anxiety and memory loss is very common, but keep in mind that this is generally relegated to difficulty concentrating or remembering short-term items. The description often used is a feeling of a "brain fog." Significant memory loss, such as the inability to remember names, places, or other long-term details should be addressed with a physician immediately, because it could be a sign of a more serious problem. The connection between anxiety and memory problems is typically not permanent, and if one receives treatment for anxiety and begins to feel better, the ability to concentrate and remember things should return fairly quickly.

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As mentioned above, anxiety and memory loss typically show up as an inability to concentrate. One might find that it is difficult to listen to a presentation at work, or that one can read an entire paragraph or page of an email and not remember anything. Then, when trying to recall facts later, it will appear as if memory loss has occurred. In truth, though, the memories were never created in the first place because it was impossible to concentrate on the information being transmitted to the brain. Persistent stress, even if it does not appear to be accompanied by anxiety, can have this same effect.

Panic attacks may also cause memory loss because they are so overwhelming while they are occurring that it is nearly impossible to focus on one's surroundings. Practicing some relaxation techniques, attending counseling with a psychotherapist, or taking prescription medication to reduce anxiety are all options to prevent anxiety and memory loss. It may also be necessary to consciously practice concentration techniques in order to still get work done and learn new things while experiencing anxiety; this may include such tips as reducing distractions, taking deep breaths of frequent breaks to go for a walk or do some stretches, and trying to accomplish tasks in small, manageable portions rather than all at once.

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Discuss this Article

burcidi
Post 3

I think the reason that anxiety and depression causes memory loss is because our brain is given too much to deal with. We worry about so many different things, that our brain is not able to process information and create memories as well as it used to before. So this leads to brain fog and issues with memory.

I think it's important to get treated soon for this reason. My sister has anxiety and she went without treatment for a long time. Now she even forgets memories from our childhood. Her memory is definitely getting worse.

ysmina
Post 2

I think I have short term memory loss symptoms from anxiety. I can't even remember what I did five minutes ago and when I do remember, it feels like it's been ages. It all seems so distant.

bluedolphin
Post 1

I've experienced lack of concentration and memory loss symptoms due to anxiety. But it happened when my anxiety was severe and when I was having anxiety attacks fairly often.

I was in school when my anxiety became severe and there were so many occasions where I just couldn't sit through class or write a paper. I was also forgetting things all the time. In fact, one time I forgot who my instructor looked like and gave my assignment to another instructor. About an hour after the fact, I realized that, that was someone else. I was so embarrassed and I was worried too because I never used to do things like that.

I received anxiety treatment soon after this and now I am much better. I can concentrate and I don't forget things. Anxiety is very bad for the mind.

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