Memory Loss List - 10 Conditions That Cause Memory Loss

When you just can't think of that actor's name or where you put your wallet, it's common to worry about memory loss. Most people think of Alzheimer's disease first, but there are several conditions that can cause memory issues. Some might surprise you.

Memory Loss List

  1. Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is the best-known cause of memory loss. There are 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's today, and that number is expected to grow as the population ages. If you or a loved one live with Alzheimer's, consider participating in a clinical trial to access new treatments and help move research forward. Sign up to hear directly from Alzheimer's researchers looking for volunteers in your area.
  2. Depression. This one might come as a surprise. Depression has been linked to short-term memory loss and other problems like forgetfulness and confusion. Because it also affects your ability to focus, depression can make it more difficult to form new memories.
  3. Head injury. A head injury or concussion can cause memory loss. In general, memory recovers over time after a head injury.
  4. Parkinson's disease. Though Parkinson's disease is better known for motor symptoms like tremor, the condition can also include memory loss and dementia, especially in later stages of the disease.
  5. Hyperthyroidism. The thyroid is a gland in your throat that regulates growth and development hormones. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause memory loss symptoms.
  6. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is considered an intermediate stage between memory issues from normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. If you experience symptoms like forgetfulness, disorientation, or difficulty making decisions, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical studythat is testing whether an investigational drug slows cognitive and functional impairment. Learn more.
  7. Silent stroke. A stroke can cause obvious changes in mental functioning, but a silent stroke can also lead to more subtle memory problems. Memory loss can occur gradually if a stroke affects smaller blood vessels. A recent study found that memory loss and dementia are associated with small blood vessel diseases in the brain.
  8. Alcoholism. Excessive alcohol use has been linked to memory issues.
  9. Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea has been linked with both memory loss and dementia. When not treated, sleep apnea can specifically impact spatial navigational memory -- the kind of memory that reminds you where you put your keys. The brain processes new memories while we sleep, so it makes sense that disrupted sleep impacts that process.
  10. Nutritional deficiency. A well-rounded diet impacts brain health. Deficiencies in vitamin B1 and B12 in particular can negatively impact memory.

Normal aging can also cause memory loss. If you're concerned about your memory, talk to your doctor. To start, your primary care physician can talk you through some of the conditions that cause memory loss and consider any medications you've been taking that can cause symptoms, too. It's common to worry about memory, but talking with your doctor and learning more can help you feel more in control.