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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Memory Loss

09/15/2008

Question:

How severe can stress or depression have an effect on memory. I 56 years of age and have for many years been experiencing gradual loss of memory. Perhaps for the past 30+ years. Now I am at a stage where I am very forgetful affecting my work and life at home and with others, much worse than it was 5-7 years ago. Can depression or stress or both be the cause for this degradation of my memory? The more I read about them, the more I believe I am stressed and depressed in my life but not to an acute stage by any means.

Answer:

Many illnesses can cause memory loss or forgetfulness, and depression is one of those illnesses.  A number of people have a low lying depression for extended periods (what is also called dysthymia) that can make them feel down for extended periods of time, but usually not enough to make them get the help they need.

Check out the weblinks for some good resources for depression and anxiety.  And make an appointment with your primary care doctor -- it is important that you get checked for other problems as well as depression that cause memory loss.

Related Resources:

Depression screening test

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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