Having difficulty remembering where you put your keys, the name of a friend when in charge of introductions, the date of an event or an appointment, are all standard and occasional common occurrences’ for many of us.
Should we be concerned?
Well some would say “no”, but we believe common forgetfulness may be a warning sign that something in your life requires reviewing. It may be that your brain is so cluttered with information or you may be feeling stressed or depressed. Erratic hormones may be the culprit, or a number of other issues that may be triggering small bouts of forgetfulness, causing you embarrassment or frustration. These being:
Stress and Anxiety
When your life is fast paced and demanding, and your expectation of yourself, or someone else’s pressure on you requires you to juggle too many tasks, responsibilities, events day to day, and week to week, then stress levels rise and may remain risen for so long that stress becomes anxiety.
The stress hormone cortisol is released in the bloodstream in large amounts during times of stress and anxiety. In particular, the hormones effect the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Cortisol affects the brain, and leads to memory loss, problems with recall, and the performance of cognitive tasks. While it's not entirely clear how this occurs, studies indicate that those with anxiety are likely to either struggle to create memories or forget them over time. It is not believed that these memory problems are permanent or represent any type of loss of brain function.
Brain imaging technology allows us to "see" the connections between depression and memory. Many studies have shown that brain-cell activity in the frontal lobes-located in the front of the brain, behind the forehead-is often reduced in depressed people. Part of the explanation for this may involve a brain chemical called serotonin. Among other things, serotonin regulates blood flow, providing cells with the fuel they need to operate. Blood flow in the brain can be monitored indirectly with a medical imaging technology called positron emission tomography (PET).
Depressed people generally have decreased levels of serotonin, which may explain the reduced brain-cell activity. Additionally, serotonin is involved in regulating arousal-the ability feel interested in or stimulated by normally pleasurable activities, and memory.
An underactive thyroid is known as Hypothyroidism and it’s a disease where the thyroid is attacked by the immune system. The person affected has an under-functioning thyroid. If you have hypothyroidism, you will find certain body functions slow down which may lead to loss of energy, loss of appetite, and memory problems.
Lack of water
Your brain is one of the most important organs in your body, made up of approximately 85 percent water.
Drinking water and brain function are integrally linked. Lack of water to the brain can cause numerous symptoms including problems with focus, memory, brain fatigue, brain fog, and headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and more.
If you go 4 to 8 hours without water you will suffer mild dehydration, but 24 hours without water will result in severe dehydration and this will greatly intensify brain problems.
Your urine will tell you how hydrated your body is. If your urine is a light straw colour then your body is hydrated. The deeper colour your urine, the less hydrated you are.
Lack of Sleep
Sufficient sleep is crucial to your brain's ability to learn and remember. Lack of sleep alters your ability to focus and learn efficiently, and sleep is necessary to consolidate your memory which is vital for future referencing.
When you are sleep deprived, your focus, attention, and vigilance drift, make it more difficult to receive information. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and you lose your ability to access previously learned information.
Brain overuse - tiredness
We believe you can overuse your brain through hinking/learning Eg: reading excessive amounts of information. This seems to have some negative effects on our brains, at least prospectively (not sure how conclusive studies about this are yet).
There is certainly something in Cognitive Psychology called Cognitive Overload, in which too much cognitive load overwhelms the working memory capacity (results are different in different people) and starts deteriorating performance. It also seems to have negative consequences on memory formation, learning, and concentration.
Substances – medication and alcohol
Alcohol and many prescription drugs, directly affects brain chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters — the chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body that control thought processes, behaviour and emotion. Alcohol affects “inhibitory” neurotransmitters.
An example of an inhibitory neurotransmitter is GABA, which reduces energy levels and calms everything down. Drugs like Xanax and Valium (and other benzodiazopenes) increase GABA production in the brain, resulting in sedation. Alcohol does the same thing by increasing the effects of GABA. This, by the way, is one reason you don’t want to drink alcohol while taking benzodiazopenes; the effects will be amplified, and that can slow your heart rate and respiratory system down to dangerous levels.
So what we just discussed accounts for the depressant effects of alcohol: it suppresses the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and increases the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. What this means for you is that your thought, speech and movements are slowed down, and the more you drink the more of these effects you’ll feel (hence the stumbling around, falling over chairs and other clumsy things drunk people do).
Remember, if you don’t use your brain through daily challenges, your cells in the brain will die off, resulting in poor cognitive health and memory loss.
Pharma and Health Care – David DiSalvo contributor. Oct 16, 2012
Webmd – Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss, August 30, 2015
www.shape.com Effects of Dehydration of Mind and Body