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Overview of Forgetfulness

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Forgetfulness is a loss or failing to remember information at appropriate time. Recollecting the information is difficult and long-term memories are not recognized at specific times. It is a spontaneous or gradual process where the old memories are not able to be remembered. Tendency to forget the information is the sign of forgetfulness.1

Forgetfulness is classified as amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia.MCI is a condition where the blood vessels of the brain are blocked by clots or fatty deposits leading to memory loss. Dementia is a serious cognitive disorder where protein deposits clog the space between the brain cells leading to loss of thinking ability and memory loss. These disorders also affect the individual’s ability to carry out routine activities.2, 3    


Signs and symptoms of Forgetfulness

Signs such as misplacing things and forgetting to go to important events are often seen. Individuals frequently ask the same question or repeat the same story or talks. They are not able to follow the instructions given. They may also get lost in familiar places. Individuals neglect to maintain a healthy diet leading to complications. Cleanliness is also not maintained.1

Symptoms also include memory impairment leading to difficulty in learning new information and forgetting the recently learnt information. Difficulty in understanding languages is common among the individuals. Difficulty to identify and recognize common objects are often seen in the affected individuals.2


Common causes of Forgetfulness

Emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, depression causes forgetfulness.

Preexisting infections of the chest or urinary bladder also leads to the disorder.

Vitamin deficiency or thyroid disorder causes forgetfulness.

In many cases side effects of certain drugs and long term overuse of alcohol or antipsychotic drugs causes forgetfulness.

Impairment in memory due to loss of brain cells are also the reasons for forgetfulness.

Pregnancy is also known to cause forgetfulness in some women.

Serious complications such as Alzheimer's disease, depressive disorders and brain tumor do cause the disorder.2

Aging may also be one of the reason.1


Diagnosis  of Forgetfulness

Individuals with memory worries should always consult doctors. Physical, neurological and psychiatric evaluations are required.

Medical examination is carried out to collect the information about

  • Medical history
  • Past medication
  • personal history
  • Over the counter drugs and
  • Diet

Psychological tests for mental abilities such as tests for memory, problem solving, counting and language are carried out.

Radiographic test such as CT scan is performed to identify or rule any abnormality in the brain structure. This scan generally shows the signs of age related changes of the brain.

Laboratory test such as blood and urine analysis may also be advised for identifying .1


Treatment of Forgetfulness

The treatment of forgetfulness requires the involvement of a multidisciplinary team that comprises of neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, and family physicians.

Medications are prescribed to reduce underlying conditions such as agitation, anxiety, depression or sleep disorders.

Antipsychotics such as haloperidol, chlorpromazine, olanzepine and antidepressants such as doxepin, imipramine and fluoxetine are prescribed for behavioral problems. Antianxiety and mood stabilizers are also recommended for the treatment. 1

Healthy diets are essential for overall good health.

Family members and friends co-operation and support is very much needed in continuing daily routines, maintaining social contacts and physical activities. 2     

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: September 30, 2012

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