Can Anxiety Disorders Cause Memory Loss?
Do you ever walk into a room and forget why you went in there in the first place? This happens countless times to most of us. But if you have chronic bouts of forgetfulness it could be your anxiety causing the mental miscues. This is because stress, anxiety, and even depression, can cause memory loss and mental haze.
Too much stress over long periods of time can hinder brain function in a major way. One of the reasons for this is because when you become stressed your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol . This hormone, which is also known for causing excess belly fat and therefore increased risk of heart disease, affects your ability to remember things and think straight.
When we become stressed or anxious, our bodies also release adrenaline into the bloodstream, which in turn causes the body to release cortisol. The two compounds are an essential part of your fight or flight response but are very different. One of the major differences is that cortisol remains in your body much longer than adrenaline does. This gives the cortisol the time it needs to adversely affect your brain cells (watch how stress triggers adrenaline and cortisol ).
While in the brain cortisol disrupts the normal function of neurotransmitters, which are the brains “communication towers.” Neurotransmitters are the chemicals used by brain cells to carry information and if they are disrupted by cortisol your brain has a difficult time sorting things out.
In addition to memory loss, this is also why you experience the anxiety gaze (staring blankly) and brain fog from time to time. Your brain’s ability to transmit information, like memories, is temporarily affected by the stress hormones you release when you are feeling high anxiety or prolonged stress. The brain is simply bogged down by all the anxiety juice released into the bloodstream.
Here it is again, anxiety unmasked for what it really is. Anxiety is really high levels of stress over a long period of time, which is sustained by ‘bad’ thoughts. I was tempted in the past to put a magical circle of light around my anxiety disorder for its ability to do nasty and seemingly mysterious things to me. But now I see it for what it is and in a lot of ways it makes it a lot less imposing to view it as just a physiological response to stress and not some ‘crazy’ disorder.
The moral of the story is that you must lower your stress level. In the long run stress will not just eat at your memory but also at your physical health. Stress can cause you to become so anxious that you start to imagine sickness and before long you have accomplished this goal via a psychosomatic effect . In other words, you stress so much and it makes you feel so bad that you assume and start to believe that you are sick and eventually this will be the case.
Don’t chalk up all your bad sensations to anxiety. Realize that while your feeling anxious you are also under a great deal of stress. Try to tone down your stress levels by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. The exercise will help to burn off that “excess” adrenaline and hopefully prevent the release of excessive amounts of cortisol. Relax as much as you can, it’s for your own good.
For more information on how stress affects the brain click here .
Recommended reading:The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook