It is not unusual for stress to creep up in the lives of menopausal women as their internal and external environments are changing. However, when this stress is accompanied by memory lapses, women may be left wondering if stress can cause memory loss, and if so, how can they reverse it?
Continue reading to learn all about the relationship between memory loss and stress in addition to how to fight the forgetfulness for long-term cognitive health.
About Memory Loss
It is common for everyone to forget things at times, from lost car keys to what was for breakfast to what one walked into the room to retrieve. This typical memory loss is generally short-term as the information needing to be retrieved returns to the mind within minutes.
Stress is the body's reaction to a change that requires it to respond physically, mentally, or emotionally. Many situations produce some degree of stress, including joyful events, such as a marriage.
It is important to clarify that stress is a natural part of life and can be positive as it keeps us alert, motivated, and out of danger.
What brings problems is when it is not relieved properly, and a stress hormone called cortisol is allowed to build up in the body, evoking psychological and physical changes, such as anxiety, headaches, sexual dysfunction, heart disease, and more.
The Relationship between Memory Loss and Stress
Unsurprisingly, stress and memory loss go hand in hand.
Experiencing extreme amounts of stress and traumatic events can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memories or prohibit the retrieval of old, provoking memory lapses at inopportune moments.
This is because high levels of cortisol disrupt synapse regulation and can even reduce the size of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Likewise, anxiety experienced during menopause can also trigger stress memory loss. Anxiety is a scientifically and commonly acknowledged risk factor in the development of stress-related mental disorders, like depression.1,2
How to Manage
To thwart memory loss caused by stress, the most reasonable action to take would be to find ways to relieve stress levels by:
- Exercising regularly to lower cortisol, release endorphins, and boost mood
- Following a well-balanced menopause diet for optimal nutrient intake
- Practicing meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other proven relaxation techniques
- Getting a good night's sleep so the body can fight stress better
- Staying connected with friends and family members
- Learning to say no to avoid over-scheduling
- Making time for hobbies and other interests
- Going to a psychologist for stress management techniques
It is key to keep a positive attitude throughout the experience. Know that this phase of life will pass and that it is not permanent.
Memory lapses and stress do not have to ruin these transformative years. In addition to aforementioned management techniques, consider pursuing further memory lapse treatments that focus on lifestyle adjustments and alternative medicine proven to promote optimal endocrine system health. By taking the right action today, you can begin to live a more balanced and less stressful life tomorrow!
- Cleveland Clinic. (2015). Stress. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Memory loss: When to seek help. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046326
- MedlinePlus. (2017). Memory loss. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003257.htm
- Touro University Worldwide. (2016). The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/
- Bermúdez-Rattoni, F. (Ed.). (2007). Neural Plasticity and Memory: From Genes to Brain Imaging. Florida: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1850/
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2013). 7 common causes of forgetfulness. Retrieved December 3, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/7-common-causes-of-forgetfulness-201302225923