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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Stress and Memory Loss

07/26/2007

Question:

I`m a 25 year old female. For the past year I`ve been noticing that I seem to be having a problem remembering things. Mostly small things, for example not remembering where I have put things away, or recalling certain memories or sometimes things or something I have said just a minute ago.

I am under a lot of stress and tension right now. I have a stressful situation with my family for a while now, but mainly because I am unemployed and am very worried about my job prospects. Can all my stress be causing this problem or is it something else? How do I find out?

Answer:

Certainly, when we are under stress, we suffer both emotionally and physically.  While everyone will experience stress in their lives, some people do seem better equipped to handle it than others  While some people seem to naturally handle stressful situations without letting it "get to them," in reality, it is a combination of both natural and learned skills that help us deal with stressful times.  While we can't change the temperament we were born with, or medical problems we may have, we can all learn better ways to handle stress.

When people feel overwhelmed, they may find it difficult to sleep, they may lose their appetite (or want to eat everything in sight), find it hard to concentrate and even seem to forget things more often.  When these symptoms last for many weeks, and especially if they are associated with sadness, tearfulness and a loss of interest in things, then a person might have depression, and should see a mental health counselor or primary care physician for an evaluation.

Healthy ways of dealing with stress can decrease uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms.  Of course, actively working to decrease external stressors is helpful, but sometimes you have no control over a situation.  Remembering and following some of the following steps may help you improve your ability to survive stressful times more successfully:

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati