Hand holding a paper sheet with human head icon broken into pieces over a crowded street background. Concept of memory loss and dementia disease. Alzheimer's losing brain and memory function.

What can cause memory loss?

Memory loss can be a scary prospect for most people. It’s often associated with mental illness or loss of function. It is also simply a part of aging. Everyone experiences some form of forgetfulness at some point, but how do you know when it crosses over into a serious problem?

In most situations, a minor lapse in memory is not a big deal. You may have put your wallet down somewhere and not remember where. You might not remember the name of someone in the workplace. These occasional hiccups in mental function are usually nothing to be concerned about.

It’s when these minor moments of forgetfulness interfere with living everyday life, it can be a sign of a greater problem. For example, if a person becomes lost on a route they regularly drive or walk, it could be cause for greater concern.

It’s important to recognize these factors early, as preventing the continued deterioration of the memory is more effective strategy than attempting to correct a long term decline. It’s key to seek a medical diagnosis early to have the greatest chance of stalling or correcting any potential problems.

Signs of Depression

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  • Aging

    It’s important to recognize that humans grow older, they learn more slowly and their mental processes slow down. This is often associated with memory loss, but it just a part of growing older. Forgetting minor details is not necessarily a sign of a greater problem.

  • Dementia

    Dementia is known as progressive memory loss to the extent that it can disrupt normal functions in everyday life. Examples of dementia can be mood swings, regularly mixing up words, repeatedly asking the same or similar questions. It can be caused by a variety of factors.

  • Alzheimer’s

    Often the cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the continual and progressive degrading of neural pathways in the brain, and can also lead to other chemical imbalances. These irregularities lead to the breakdown of the brains ability to encode and recall information.

  • Lack of Sleep

    When we are not rested, it’s more difficult to commit things to memory. It is while we sleep that the brain encodes memories from the day to long-term retrievable memory.

  • Drug/Alcohol Abuse

    Excessive alcohol use and drug abuse can lead to loss of cognitive function and impede the brain’s ability to recall information effectively.

  • Nutritional Deficiency

    When the brain is not properly supplied with nutrients, it can have difficulty transmitting information efficiently throughout its network.

  • Stroke

    A stroke is caused when blood flow is interrupted to the brain. Damage from a stroke can cause a wide range of damage including varying degrees of short or long-term memory loss.

  • Head Injury

    Any blow to the head can damage the brain, and in turn affect memory. For most minor injuries, this damage can repair itself and the memory issues are temporary. Repeated collisions, like those in football, have been linked with more permanent brain damage and loss of memory.

Depending on the cause of the memory loss, treatments are available. In some cases, when the cause of the memory loss is addressed—drug/alcohol abuse, lack of sleep, nutrition deficiency—memory recovers and mental function improves. For other situations, such as serious head injuries or a stroke, regular therapy can be the best solution. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s may see results in certain medications recommended by their doctor. As always, it’s important to seek the advice of your doctor when identifying and treating causes of memory loss.

About Lehigh Center

The Lehigh Center is the largest independently run research facility in the Lehigh Valley. Our qualified physicians conduct clinical trials  to evaluate investigational treatments for specific diseases, including depression. If you are interested in leaning more about our current studies, please click the link below.