If you experience something like forgetting where you are, you might be suffering from an underlying issue causing problems in your memory. Transient global amnesia is where recent events vanish, and people don’t remember where they’re or what’s happening around them. Other causes could include brain tumors, depression, vitamin B12 deficiency, alcohol abuse, stroke, brain injury, or thyroid issues. Some reasons are easily treatable than others by implementing changes in one’s lifestyle, and others are treated with therapy or medication. There’s no shame in getting help from people you trust around you, and if a loved one is suffering, then you should help them as much as possible.
It’s an everyday thing to go from your room to the living area only to forget what you came to do here in the first place, but then you’ll instantly remember it. It’s a very common thing that happens with almost everyone. But things take a different turn when you’re unable to do so, and such episodes occur pretty often.
Forgetting car keys or picking up an item while grocery shopping is nothing to be worried about. Still, if you notice yourself blanking out lately and even forgetting where you are or omitting names, then this can signal a severe memory lapse.
When it comes to memory loss, people instantly jump to suspecting Alzheimer’s disease or a sign of dementia, but that’s not always the case. There could be different underlying issues causing you to have episodes where you don’t remember where you are.
Let’s look at some of the common issues, their symptoms, and how to treat them to prevent a complete memory loss.
Table of Contents
Transient global amnesia
Starting with the most common form of issue which causes memory loss in people, amnesia can be of different types.
It’s common for memory to lag and your brain to forget things as you age. But if you’re experiencing episodes of memory loss at a young age, that needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly.
Amnesia can be of different types. If you’re someone who forgets where they’re or have sudden memory lapses, you might be suffering from transient global amnesia (TGA).
TGA is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition such as epilepsy or stroke.
This is one such form of amnesia where your recall of recent events vanishes, and you don’t remember where you’re or how you got there. You even have trouble recalling what’s happening around you.
Although you’ll remember your identity and have normal cognition, such as the ability to recognize and name familiar objects and follow simple directions.
You’ll keep on repeating questions such as “where am I?” or “what’s going on?” and so on, even if you’ve been given answers multiple times.
Causes of TGA
The underlying cause of TGA is unknown, but there has been a connection between migraine and this form of amnesia in the past. Another possible reason could be the overfilling of veins with blood due to blockage or other abnormalities with blood flow.
Some events which can trigger this form of amnesia include:
- Sudden immersion in cold or hot water
- Strenuous physical activity
- Sexual intercourse
- Medical procedures
- Mild head trauma
- Acute emotional distress
Though transient global amnesia is more prevalent in people age 50 or above, someone with a history of migraine might get it too, no matter their age.
Diagnosis and treatment of TGA
If you’re experiencing similar symptoms, your doctor will perform exams such as a neurological exam, checking reflexes, muscle tone, sensory function, coordination, and balance. He might ask some questions to test thinking, judgment, and memory. A combination of other tests such as an MRI, CT scan, and electroencephalogram might be done.
You don’t have to worry too much as this amnesia doesn’t last long and resolves independently. During your recovery, you may slowly remember events that took place.
7 possible causes for memory loss
While amnesia is a common medical condition to think about when one’s suffering from an issue like forgetting where they are, there could be other causes responsible for your sudden memory loss.
Here are some other issues causing sudden memory loss:
1. Brain tumor
The memory problem is one of the warning signs when looking at signs and symptoms of a brain tumor. Memory problems could be due to a tumor developing in your brain, mainly if it affects the frontal and temporal lobes. It can impair your reasoning and decision-making skills.
This can happen at any stage and could even be a side effect of chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer treatments. It can even worsen with fatigue. Some other symptoms to watch out for:
- Sensory changes such as vision, smell, and hearing
- Personality changes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty walking or performing daily activities
- Weakness on one side of the body
It’s important to immediately talk to a doctor if you’re experiencing a few of these symptoms or signs. It could be that the symptoms overlap with other medical conditions. Whatever the situation is, earlier diagnosis and treatment can help you recover faster.
Depression has also been linked to causing memory problems such as forgetfulness or confusion. It’s primarily short-term memory loss and doesn’t affect a person’s long-term memory. But it can make it difficult for you to focus on work or other tasks such as making decisions or thinking clearly.
In cases when depression is causing memory loss issues in a person, it’s typically managed by regular counseling or therapy and antidepressants. Leading an active lifestyle and getting involved in your community can bring a significant change.
Other symptoms for depression:
- Feeling sad, anxious, numb, or hopeless
- A loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Having little energy and feeling fatigued
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Feeling shame, guilt, worthlessness, or powerlessness
- Loss of appetite and drastic changes in weight
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Thinking about death or suicide
- Having physical problems, such as headaches, stomach aches, and back pain
If you notice the above symptoms developing besides your memory being affected, you should see your doctor to determine your condition and work on it.
3. Vitamin B12 deficiency
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can also lead to memory issues in a person. This nutrient is needed to help your body use energy from food and protect nerve cells to think clearly.
If you’re low on vitamin B12, you’ll see some other signs other than issues with your memory, such as:
- Weight loss
- Poor balance
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Sore mouth or tongue
A person with a B12 deficiency can quickly recover by making some dietary changes and increasing the intake of food items rich in vitamin B12. A desirable threshold should be somewhere around 300 and 350 pg/mL.
Consume items rich in this vitamin, such as meat, milk, fish, cheese, and eggs. Or you can take supplements if your level is deficient for the time being.
4. Alcohol abuse
Alcohol can temper your memory in large amounts and make you either forget the whole event, which is generally referred to as a blackout, or create gaps in your memory. Besides facing the difficulty of remembering what happened, too much alcohol can also lead to permanent memory loss, described as dementia.
Below are some of the signs for alcohol-related short-term memory loss:
- You talked to someone recently but don’t remember the conversation.
- You find yourself confused and disoriented about where you are.
- You have problems paying attention.
- People tell you about things you did when you had alcohol, but you can’t seem to remember it.
- You got in trouble with loved ones or police when drunk but don’t remember what you did.
Below are some signs for alcohol-related long-term memory loss:
- They may make up small stories to fill in the gaps in their memory, known as confabulation.
- There’s a noticeable personality change, and they might appear withdrawn, agitated, frustrated, or even angry.
- They might ask the same questions repeatedly without any memory of asking them before.
- They may have difficulty learning new skills.
Someone experiencing short-term memory loss can recover quickly by cutting alcohol altogether since they aren’t addicted to it yet. There are several other treatments for those experiencing long-term memory loss to consider.
If you recently experienced a lapse in your memory, it’s better to act early and make necessary lifestyle changes before it becomes severe.
5. Head injury
Receiving injury to your head, such as a concussion, can be problematic and create issues with your memory. Anything from a car accident to falling from the bed in a wrong position where you hit your head somewhere can cause problems with memory.
Sometimes it might feel alright after receiving some head injury, but the effects show later.
If you’ve received any form of head injury in the past, then you should get yourself checked now if you are experiencing any memory issues. After a proper diagnosis, your doctor will recommend various treatment options based on your injury.
A stroke is a brain attack commonly caused by a sudden loss of blood flow to the brain or bleeding inside the head. It’s estimated that approximately one-third of stroke victims will develop memory problems and severe difficulties in other aspects of performing daily activities.
The memory problems can be so severe that they interfere with normal functioning and lead to dementia. The best way to prevent a person from suffering from dementia is to stop the stroke by controlling high blood pressure, which increases the risk of a stroke.
Getting regular check-ups, exercising, eating healthily, keeping a normal cholesterol and blood sugar level, and quitting smoking are some treatment options to reduce the risk of stroke.
7. Thyroid issues
The thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones that regulates growth and development. Many problems can occur if it’s not functioning well, such as extreme fatigue, weight loss or gain, rapid heartbeat, and hair loss.
Both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can cause memory issues in a person suffering from either of these thyroid issues.
Hypothyroidism affects memory because thyroid hormones play a role in brain areas crucial for our memories and cognitive skills. It affects abilities such as planning, impulse control, and making decisions.
On the other hand, hyperthyroidism commonly exhibits poor concentration, slower reaction times, decreased spatial organization, and memory lapses.
In either case, the issues with your memory are temporary and aren’t something severe that you should worry about. With the right treatments such as medications, your thyroid can be brought under control and remove the brain fog or issues with your memory.
Dealing with your own memory loss
If you’re experiencing issues with your memory, then there’re a few things you can do to help with your daily life.
- Make a list of things to do in the day.
- Keep a checklist of the medications needed to be taken throughout the day if the pills need to be re-purchased.
- Keep your address book and calendar up to date.
- Keep your home organized and easy to manage.
- Keep yourself mentally and socially active by engaging in hobbies and your community.
- If you’ve noticed a few issues with memory, then immediately visit the doctor. If your memory is becoming worse, you need a change of treatments.
Dealing with a loved one’s memory loss
It’s difficult to watch someone you know and love struggle with their memory. You want to help them in such situations but don’t know where to start. Any help would benefit the person you love struggling with memory loss.
- Take them to their doctor’s appointment by remembering their appointments. If you aren’t able to do so, then remind them about it in any way possible for you.
- Keep a check of their medications, including taking them daily when refilling is required and any change in medications.
- Help them update their address book and calendar.
- Help them organize their home, and depending on their condition, you can label stuff in their home.
- Keep important things in sight.
- Use sticky notes to write things they need to be reminded of.
- Indulge them in activities in their community and any hobby that interests them to exercise their brains.
- Keep nostalgic memories in the front, such as old photographs.
- Arrange a home help to help you with other tasks and make things easier for them.
- Help them by being kind to them all the time, for if their memory loss is severe, it’s difficult for them as it is, and you don’t want to upset them.
Ways to prevent memory loss
Just some precautionary tips and tricks to remember and include them in your life to avoid going towards a permanent memory loss path. While you could have just had one small incident, it’s better to change a few things in your lifestyle to prevent these episodes from occurring again.
- Avoid heavy use of alcohol or drugs.
- Use protective headgear when playing sports or a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
- Use a seatbelt whenever driving, even for a short distance.
- If you got a head injury, it’s best to visit a doctor and get tested because sometimes effects show later.
- If you’re older, get your eyes checked regularly.
- Stay mentally and physically active by participating in various activities.
- Have a balanced diet in your life, including fruits, fiber, wheat, vegetable, grain, and proteins.
- Stay hydrated.
Why do I forget I am real sometimes?
Depersonalization disorder is a mental health condition that affects how you relate to yourself. It can make you feel you’re not real. The symptoms also include:
– Feel like you’re outside your body and having an out-of-body experience.
– Feeling detached from yourself
– Numbness in your mind or body
– Feeling as if you don’t control what you do or say
– Feeling as if parts of your body are the wrong size
– Difficulty attaching emotion to memories
There’re no defined reasons why one starts suffering from this mental issue, but experiencing stress and trauma at a young age can trigger it.
There needs to be a proper diagnosis of this mental condition because it can be difficult to diagnose it in the first place. Treatments include some form of therapy or medication.
Can anxiety make you forget where you are?
When someone suffers from anxiety, their mind frequently is in a state of stress, which increases the amount of cortisol in their system throughout the day. Cortisol is known to interfere with the process of forming and recalling memories.
Experiencing anxiety can have many effects on a person, including forgetfulness, and it leads to short-term memory loss and general ability to remember things. The good thing is it’s easily treatable by making some lifestyle changes and treating the underlying issue that’s your anxiety.
Is it normal to forget things?
It’s normal to forget your keys, the names of people you meet rarely, or what you want to get from somewhere. It’s part of being a human, and sometimes, our brain and memory lag. But it’s only for a short time as you often remember things after a while.
Forgetting where you’re or about an event that took place earlier isn’t common. If you have gone through something similar quite a few times now, it’s best to visit a doctor.
What are the 3 foods that fight memory loss?
Making some dietary changes can help you immensely. There’re quite some food items that are said to improve a person’s memory. Try including more berries, fish, and leafy vegetables in your diet.
In fact, making some other changes in your lifestyle can help you out, like cutting out alcohol and smoking. Having a good routine can affect you positively, and it’s best to indulge in things around you, like your community and hobbies.
Experiencing a memory issue such as not remembering where you’re or what you were doing there can bring some anxiety and raise questions in one’s mind. It does make you worry, and you might automatically think you’re facing symptoms of amnesia or other memory loss condition.
But that’s not always the case, and it could be as simple as a vitamin B12 deficiency, side effect of a concussion, or have consumed large amounts of alcohol. These can easily be controlled by making some necessary lifestyle changes.
You don’t have to worry or think about it too much sometimes, it’s not even that serious, and it could just be a one-time issue. But if you see a pattern of problems with your memory and some other symptoms, then it’s better to see a doctor.
An early diagnosis and treatment of any condition can help you recover faster!