It’s normal to forget things. We all do. However, frequent forgetfulness may make it difficult to manage daily life demands. This may be annoying, and cause us to worry. We may wonder if this is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or some other brain disorder. We may even wonder if we are “going crazy.” There are several reasons why our memory fails us. Emotional problems, poor health, or age may be the culprit.

Depression. When people are depressed, they tend to see only the bad things about themselves and the world. They may ruminate about their lapses in memory, and feel unable to make decisions or solve problems as they once did. Sometimes depression is associated with irritability or agitation, making it difficult to relax and focus. On the other hand, depression can slow down thinking and make it difficult to process information.

Anxiety & Stress. Nervousness or worry may also affect concentration and memory. It is common for people to have difficulty recalling information when they are worried about their performance – like when giving a speech or taking a test. Chronic stress can also contribute to forgetfulness because daily problems may be distracting and disruptive.

Age. While forgetfulness is more common as we age, this can be especially troublesome for a person used to being “on top of their game.” It can be difficult to know when memory problems are more than just normal aging. A consultation with a neuropsychologist may help clarify whether your memory problems are due to normal aging.

Physical Health. “Sleep hygiene” is important for brain health because insomnia can lead to problems with thinking. An underactive thyroid, poor nutrition, severe heart or lung disease, diabetes, and infections may also contribute to memory problems. In addition, certain medications and other substances, such as drugs or alcohol may negatively affect a person’s ability to concentrate and remember.