Forgetting things is a part of life. However, when someone forgets things regularly and can’t remember them, or they forget days, weeks, months, and even years of their life, that is memory loss. Memory loss, both short term and long term, is a frightening experience, and it can affect both the person experiencing memory loss and others around them. What causes memory loss in the first place?


One of the most well-known sources of memory loss, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia mainly affect short-term memory. With dementia and Alzheimer’s, short-term memory deteriorates first, since the brain’s connections to long term memories are much stronger. Typically, people with Alzheimer’s who experience memory loss in its early stages will forget recently learned information, important dates, or may ask the same question multiple times. As this goes on, it can affect someone’s daily life and their ability to complete tasks and take care of themselves.

Depression and Anxiety

Memory loss is a common symptom of anxiety and depression, as is trouble concentrating, retaining information, and thinking clearly. While only related to short-term memory loss, someone with depression or anxiety may forget something they’ve recently learned because they could not retain the information, or their brains didn’t fully process the information given. In a recent study, it was discovered that people with depression have a reduced working memory capacity, meaning they have less room to store short-term memories.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Trauma may affect long-term memory, but it can also affect executive function and how someone regulates their behavior and emotions. In patients with PTSD, it has been found that their hippocampus—the memory recall center of the brain—is damaged, and “stuck” in the moment of their trauma. This means people with post-traumatic stress disorder may not remember much after their traumatic experience or may have difficulty recalling long-term memories before their trauma.

PTSD also affects the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that manages behavior, emotion, and short-term recall, by releasing hormones into the prefrontal cortex that inhibit the system’s basic functions.

Dissociative Disorders

Characterized by chronic, involuntary escapes from reality or disconnection from thoughts, feelings, memory, and identity, dissociative disorders all share one common symptom: specific memory loss. In some cases, memory loss may occur when someone begins to dissociate this could happen for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Memory loss could also be tied to a traumatic incident, in which the person experiencing memory loss may not remember a major traumatic event in their lives, like with Dissociative Amnesia.

Other Causes of Memory Loss

There are many other causes of memory loss including minor head trauma and concussions, getting blackout drunk, vitamin deficiencies, and even some medications! While these causes are reversible, it is always important to notify a doctor if memory or cognition is impaired.

If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic short-term or long-term memory loss, speak with your primary care physician as soon as possible. For help getting the equipment you need to help your loved one live more safely and comfortably, visit Medical Supply Depot.


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