Memory loss is one of the less obvious, although common symptoms of anxiety. But because the memories lost are usually minute, memory loss may go unnoticed for a long time. Chronic stress is the main cause of memory loss, although it can also be caused by other anxiety symptoms, which may lead to even more losses of memory. In this discussion, we will look at anxiety and the memory loss, and ways in which to control these problems.
There isn’t one set way that memory loss affects everyone. It is, however, quite severe in those suffering from severe anxiety.
Cortisol, the stress hormone is the real cause of memory loss. Cortisol hormone is released in high quantities due to stress. For this reason, people with severe anxiety, and therefore severe stress, have a higher risk of suffering from serious memory loss. According to many studies, cortisol causes memory loss, more so loss of short term memory. This is because; cortisol works like a toxin on brain cells.
It is worth noting that the longer one has anxiety, the higher the amounts of cortisol they have in their systems, and therefore, the more likely that they will increasingly get memory loss. But besides cortisol, memory loss may also occur to the following:
Another connection between anxiety and memory loss is to look at anxiety as intense distraction. In this case, the mind is unable to harness mental energy to create memories or notice the things happening around you.
Additionally, your mind retains memories of the things that are impressed on it with more intensity. For example, if you are too anxious about something, your brain takes the object of your anxiety as being more important than the things that you may hear from a friend or a teacher. Thus, while you don’t deliberately ignore the things that you hear or learn, your mind stores what you keep on it with more intensity, even though this maybe just a fear.
Sleep deprivation may also lead to increased anxiety. It is worth noting that after periods of sleep deprivation, the mind cannot operate effectively. Moreover, memories are built during sleep and memory recall is best when you have a well rested and sharp mind.
The functions of building and recalling memories have better chances when you get social support. For this reason, people who feel they have support of family and friends have healthier memories. Since anxiety can lead to decreased social support, memory loss may be its secondary symptom.
Besides the combination of anxiety and memory loss, it is normal to forget some things. This occurs more than most people may realize. It is only that anxious people may focus more on the lost memories and somehow think this they may have more serious problems than other people. The truth is that memory loss is part of life and not necessarily due to old age. Unfortunately, people with anxiety may fear that they are more forgetful because they are getting old.
It is possible to have the above possible causes of memory loss as you deal with anxiety. You can get over your memory loss by doing the following:
There are some memory improvement approaches that can be used by anybody. However, these approaches are even more important if you suffer from anxiety and memory loss. Note that keeping focus on new and interesting activities can help to keep your memory active so that it retains more. Some activities for memory improvement include:
Regular blogging – Daily blogging or journaling helps you to keep notes of things that happened in your day. There is no need to include too many details as long as you note the things that you consider to be worth remembering. Rereading these notes will help your mind retain more memories.
Try mnemonics – You can learn mnemonics from various books available at bookstores and online. Note that to improve your memory, you must be committed to pursuing it and practicing it diligently.
While the effect of exercise on the functions of the mind is usually ignored, it is worth encouraging everybody with anxiety issues to exercise regularly. Exercising increases the flow of blood, calms anxiety and stimulates increased production of neurotransmitters. Exercise can therefore work in a similar way to medication which is the reason why it should be done every day.
Relaxation techniques can also help to reduce stress. Unfortunately, many people dislike the relaxation techniques, largely because they don’t follow them for adequate lengths of time to see their effects. You need to follow the relaxation techniques long enough for them to become second nature to you so that you can do them without being anxious about whether or not they can work for you. Once you have overcome worrying about their efficacy, you will see positive results.
Relaxation techniques to relieve anxiety include meditation, visualization and progressive muscle relaxation.
Skipping sleep can increase anxiety. Note that adequate sleep helps to control physical and mental stress. Therefore, make a habit of going to bed early and to sleep for 7-9 hours every night.
Desensitizing your mind from any fears or worries that you have can help reduce your anxiety symptoms. For instance, you can beat your fear of getting embarrassed by deliberately doing the thing that may cause the embarrassment such as wearing a ridiculous costume and going out in public. By putting yourself in the state of embarrassment, you face your fear and can therefore deal with it.
Do the same for other fears and they won’t bother you as much anymore. You can even do this for many of the symptoms and triggers of panic attacks and you will be less likely to get panic attacks.
Don’t take life so seriously. Enjoy every moment you can. You can even find fun activities in your job so that you are less anxious about it. If there are no fun activities around you, create them – little games for instance, that don’t interfere with your job performance.
Healthy distractions such as uplifting music, fun games and TV programs can help you control your anxiety. Because you tend to be more anxious when you are secluded, go out and spend time with friends, family or colleagues. This way you will have less time to worry or be anxious.
Creativity is another way to beat anxiety and memory loss. Art can be therapeutic by allowing for expression of your thoughts and fears, and serving as a distraction from negative thoughts. Additionally, creating an artwork gives you a sense of accomplishment and self worth.