Mental-Cognitive Symptoms
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Anxiety and Memory Loss

Wendy M Yoder, Ph.D.
Anxiety and Memory Loss

Memory loss can be a confusing and frightening anxiety symptom. It's also an extremely common symptom, but the memories that people lose are often so minute that people don't realize they're losing them.

Memory loss is a byproduct of stress, but various other anxiety symptoms can actually create further memory loss as well. Below, we'll explore the effects of memory loss on anxiety and provide tips for controlling it.

Causes of Anxiety Memory Loss

The main cause of memory loss is a hormone known as cortisol. It's the hormone released during stress, which is why those with severe anxiety (and excessive stress) are more at risk for developing memory loss problems. Numerous studies have confirmed that cortisol contributes to memory loss, especially short term memory loss, because it is a toxin to the cells of the brain.

The longer you deal with anxiety, the more cortisol you'll have in your system, and that means that you're more likely to continue to suffer from memory loss in the future. But cortisol is not the only culprit. Other reasons for trouble remembering include:

Memory loss may be its own cause of anxiety. People are afraid of getting older and forgetting things, so when they forget anything they start to feel as though their minds are failing them.

All of these examples of memory loss are normal, and simply a part of dealing with anxiety. In order to overcome that memory loss, you need to do two things:

Memory improvement tools are always important, and when you have anxiety they're even more so. You should be focusing on new and interesting ways to keep your memory active.

Daily blogging is one useful way. Give yourself a personal recap of your day. You don't need to go into great detail, but you should take relevant notes of things that you want to remember and then re-read those notes often in order to keep those memories alive.

You can also try various mnemonics. There are several books available on improving memory. "The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play" is a fairly popular one, and you can find many others at your local bookstore. Be advised though that memory improvements require commitment, and can be lost if you don't continue to practice them.

You should also make sure that you're exercising and sleeping. Exercise increases brain cells and burns away stress hormones, so it's a great tool for stopping some of the issues that lead to memory loss. Memories are also created when you sleep, so making sure that you're getting enough rest is very important.

Steps to Control Your Anxiety

The good news about exercise and sleep is that they're important for anxiety as well, so if you start ensuring that you get enough exercise and rest daily you'll put yourself in a much better position for overcoming anxiety.

But you'll still need to commit to a treatment option that can reduce your anxiety - and ultimately improve your memory - in the long term.

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