Memory loss could mean long term memory or a short term memory loss. While most of the time, forgetting something is a common enough occurrence that happens to everyone one time or another, there are some instances when losing memory could mean a trip to the doctor.
Below are few reasons for memory loss that can be serious enough to warrant a professional intervention:
This is a serious, but thankfully, not as common form of memory loss, where a person may forget a period of his or her life from the past, or unable to make future memories (short term memory loss). There are different kinds of amnesia based on its different causes.
If amnesia occurs due to an injury, disease, infection, stroke, or any kind of physical damage to the brain, that results in the loss of nerve cells, there is not much that can be done to restore it.
On occasions, the brain does partially heal itself over time, restoring some of the lost memories.
If amnesia occurs due repression of traumatic memories - such as abuse or rape - psychotherapy, hypnosis, or exposing the person to common places or people can help rejuvenate some of the memory.
Medical conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases affect our memory.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, and typically affects the short term memory first - where the person forgets events that happened just few minutes earlier - and gradually proceeds to long term memory.
A blood test, along with other tests, can help diagnose the exact condition. There are plenty of medical websites, like WebMD, that discuss these causes of memory loss in much greater detail, along with possible treatment options.
Stress is another serious, but often overlooked culprit, when dealing with memory issues. Major physical or psychological stresses, including depression, produce high levels of stress hormones in our body.
Prolonged exposure to such high levels of stress hormones can have a significant negative effect on our memory.
There are also research studies that demonstrate the negative effect even temporary stress can have on our memory and learning capabilities.
Alcohol abuse is a big culprit when it comes to one of the severe, and often permanent causes of memory loss.
While there is established research that links heavy alcohol usage to a reduction in our ability to retain and retrieve information, there are also studies from U.K that connect drinking alcohol to experiencing a negative impact in our day-to-day memory as well.
And the partial or complete blackouts - periods of memory loss of events that occurred while the person was drinking - are quite well known as well.
Memory is sometimes affected because of the side effects of some of the drugs, or general anesthetics, we may be taking or have taken in the past. For that reason, it is important to let your doctor know about all your medications - even during any routine visit - and more particularly when getting diagnosed for a memory related problem.