• Causes of mental fog, memory loss and forgetfulness are not necessarily serious, but pinpointing the exact problem can prevent more serious illness, especially in the elderly


    Mental fog, memory loss and forgetfulness are common. A few of the many possible causes include stress, poor nutrition, dehydration, prescription drugs, menopause, depression, certain dissociative disorders, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.


    When the human mind and body are under stress, a fight-or-flight hormone called cortisol is released into the bloodstream. Cortisol provides a boost of energy but interferes with memory. The memory impairment caused by stress and cortisol is reversible: As soon as the stress stops, memory function returns.


    Many women experience a loss of focus or mental fog during menopause. Changing hormone levels are the cause. Once hormones have stabilized post-menopause, most women regain their sense of sharpness and focus. The mental fog is a side effect of the change itself and moderates once it has completed.

    Depression and Dissociative Disorders

    When mental fog, loss of memory and forgetfulness are experienced along with other symptoms, it might point to clinical depression or to a dissociative disorder caused by stress or trauma. Both conditions are treatable with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

    Dementia and Alzheimer's

    Some people begin to experience mental fog, loss of memory and forgetfulness as a function of aging. A family physician can quickly assess whether these issues point to dementia or Alzheimer's.


    Forgetfulness: How to Know When to Ask for Help

    High Stress Hormone Levels Impair Memory

    Menopause: NIH Symptom List and Explanations

    More Information:

    Medical Causes of Memory Loss and How They Can Be Treated

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