Do you find yourself often forgetting simple things such as where you placed your car keys or your glasses? Although this type of forgetfulness happens to most people, particularly chronic multi-taskers and people under stress, if it becomes a daily occurrence there could be a medical reason. Although many serious conditions that involve the brain and nervous system can cause forgetfulness, there are three common medical problems that can cause this symptom that few people consider. Here are three medical conditions that can cause forgetfulness.
Conditions that cause forgetfulness: Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is just another term for an underactive thyroid gland. This little gland plays such an important role in normal body function that when it slows down production of thyroid hormone, you can experience a variety of disturbing symptoms such as depression, forgetfulness, problems with concentration, tiredness, weakness, dry skin, and weight gain. In some rare cases, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and depression can be the only signs. This is a condition that’s easily diagnosed with blood tests and controlled with thyroid hormone supplementation. If you’re experiencing forgetfulness with any of these other symptoms, see your doctor to rule out thyroid problems.
Conditions that cause forgetfulness: Depression
Yes, simple garden variety depression can cause forgetfulness and mild memory disturbances. Why does this occur? When a person is depressed, they may experience increased levels of a “stress” hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can adversely affect a portion of the brain known as the hippocampus that’s associated with memory. If you’re experiencing early morning awakenings, feelings of sadness and low self esteem, a lack of energy, or other symptoms of depression along with forgetfulness, it may be time to seek medical attention.
Conditions that cause forgetfulness: Sleep apnea
This is a condition that’s more common than most people realize. It’s a condition where breathing stops for short periods at night, usually due to partial obstruction of the airway by the muscles in the throat or the tongue. This can occur for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, researchers have found that some people who suffer from sleep apnea have loss of brain mass in certain areas of the brain associated with memory. The brain region that appears to be involved is located on the underside of the brain and are known as mammillary bodies. Experts believe that the brief drops in oxygen that occur with sleep apnea may cause this area to lose viable cell tissue, resulting in memory disturbances and forgetfulness. If you or a loved one snores frequently at night or is observed to stop breathing or gasp for air, see a doctor to rule out sleep apnea.
Although infrequent episodes of forgetfulness usually don’t mean anything, keep these three conditions in mind if they happen on a daily basis.