Five possible reasons why people forget things all the time

If one suddenly forgets names and aspects during work or during narrations, this is annoying and annoying, however, in most cases no reason for the concern. You can take action against most causes yourself.

Man sitting thoughtfully at his desk

Just when you want to tell a story, write something down or fetch something from another room – and from one moment to the next you forget exactly what you wanted to say or do.

Often it is of little use to think about the lost thought – it usually comes back when your mind is somewhere else again.

Memory gaps usually not alarming

Such sudden lapses are not at all so rare.

A study from 2014, which appeared in the journal ‘PLOS ONE’, showed that 14.4 percent of the approximately 4.500 asked test persons at the age of 18 to 39 years of it assume to suffer from deratigen memory problems.

However, those who experience such gaps from time to time need not immediately worry and assume the worst.

In fact, there are a few reasons why this type of memory problem occurs – most of which are not a big deal.

1. Short-term memory is overloaded

"Short-term memory, also called working memory, is your ability to keep information available for a short period of time," explains clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Catherine Price to the English-language portal ‘SELF’.

Unfortunately, this part of the brain is a limited resource – so it can only hold a certain amount of information at any one time.

A 2016 study provided the assumption that the scope of working memory in most young healthy adults is about three or four pieces of information – for example, the name of a person you just met.

So every now and then you can get the feeling of forgetting many important things that you have mentally brought to mind.

2. Inattention

Lack of attention can be another factor that makes remembering difficult. In fact, a complex process is required to create and retrieve memories.

This process begins in the cerebral cortex, which gathers information from the outside world, and extends through the hippocampus, which helps convert short-term memories into long-term ones.

"People who are distracted while learning new information are not as good at encoding it and recalling it later as usual," explains Dr. med. Suzanne Schindler, associate professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, opposite ‘SELF.

"So to avoid unintentional memory lapses, just paying attention and being mindful of."

When meeting new people, he says, it helps to repeat the other person’s name in his head. Another helpful tactic for remembering things is to write them down by hand.

According to a study published in 2014 in the journal Psychological Science, writing things down causes the brain to encode information better.

And if that doesn’t help, at least you have a note to use as a reminder.

3. The brain ages

As people age, they often feel more likely to forget names of people, objects and places than they did a few years ago.

"The truth is that this is probably even the case," Schindler knows. To a certain extent, he says, such memory wear and tear is to be expected.

"This is a problem that increases throughout life," explains the expert. Brain specialists, however, would not normally consider this phenomenon relevant.

"The word is in your brain, but you can’t get it out at that moment – that’s frustrating and annoying."

But there’s an all-clear: Because, according to the expert, that doesn’t mean you have dementia or another brain disease.

The explanation is simple: the older you get, the larger your vocabulary becomes. But at the same time, using most of the words you know is becoming less likely.

"The less often you use a word, the harder it is to access it in your memories," explains David Knopman, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and a renowned Alzheimer’s expert.

4. Too little sleep

If you don’t give your body and brain enough rest, short interruptions and forgetfulness can accumulate.

To optimize brain function, the U.S. National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep a night.

That’s because during different stages of sleep, the brain creates and maintains different pathways that help learn new things and create memories.

If you are permanently overtired, not only your good mood suffers, but also your concentration and memory performance.

Image gallery: 11 tips for your better sleep

5. Depression

There are cases where memory lapses can be a sign of an underlying medical problem.

A 2014 study examined several risk factors for self-reported memory impairment – including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

The result: of all the risk factors, depression was most strongly associated with feeling like you suffer from memory problems.

The exact relationship has not yet been fully scientifically established. However, researchers believe that brain changes associated with depression can affect memory.

A 2015 study published in ‘The American Journal of Psychiatry’ shows that people with depression are more likely to have a smaller volume in their hippocampus, which plays an important role in storing new memories.

Schindler cautions, however, that this type of structural change is more likely to occur in people who have suffered from severe depression for a long time.

Memory lapses are not always cause for alarm

The good news is that occasional short interruptions rarely cause serious health problems.

"However, when memory problems start to interfere with daily life, this is definitely a time to take a closer look at your health," Price advises.

"If you find that your memory difficulties are affecting your mood or that you are more depressed or anxious, you should definitely seek medical help."

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