You may be familiar with the fact that memory loss can occur at times of severe or high stress. Say you were in a car accident, and afterwards, you can’t remember exactly what happened after the cars collided. Or if you’re stressed about taking a test, you may find that you have memory lapses when you come across questions that you KNOW you know the answer to. However stress comes about for you, it typically shows up through the loss of memory.
How does memory loss occur in stressful situations? Stress triggers energy from your hippocampus, which is a portion of the brain that is involved in long-term and spatial memory. When the hippocampus is activated, it uses energy that can help create memorable events. However, when it is overused due to stress, it can cause memory loss. It can be damaged by repeated overuse, and therefore, can cause memory lapses in terms of short-term memory. Damage to the hippocampus can be the reasoning behind the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but research is still in progress about stress and its effect on the hippocampus.
Forgetfulness and lapses in memory can be a typical, daily incident for some of us, but when it starts to become progressively worse or affects your daily life and ability to complete life-sustaining tasks, it can become a serious issue that needs medical attention. However, by keeping yourself out of overly stressful situations and by keeping your stress under control, you can help prevent further damage to your hippocampus and hopefully delay or keep memory loss at bay.