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Can Anxiety Cause Memory Loss?

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A close-up of a man with anxiety with his touching his temples in both hands with messy lines and question marks on his head.

If your loved one is having trouble remembering things—dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other health concerns are typically at the top of your mind. However, anxiety may be affecting their memory. Depending on the cause of their memory loss, it may be something small, or your loved one might need more support in the future.

Anxiety can affect memory. While it may not cause you to forget major moments in life, it can affect the smaller aspects of memory and possibly contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Can Anxiety Cause Memory Loss? 

Anxiety can affect someone’s memory, but it doesn’t typically cause memory loss. You may have trouble recalling intricate details in the current moment because anxiety affects your working memory, the temporary information your brain holds during a task. 

You may forget about:

  • Instructions
  • Directions
  • Recent conversations
  • Something you read

Anxiety won’t cause you to forget important parts of your past. However, memory loss can occur because of other problems, such as dementia. 

A picture of a human brain showing  a piece of a muscle is missing.

Memory Loss Can Mean More Than Anxiety

Stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to forgetfulness, confusion, or difficulty concentrating, which can negatively affect everyday life. However, these memory troubles are generally reversible when you relieve stress and anxiety. 

Memory loss is common in conditions like dementia, a group of diseases many older adults experience. Dementia worsens with time, making symptoms more severe. If your loved one has dementia, they may seem fine at first, but you may notice memory struggles with time. 

You may identify changes in your loved one, such as: 

  • Forgetting common words
  • Mixing up words when speaking
  • Asking questions again & again
  • Putting items in uncommon places
  • Getting lost when walking or driving somewhere familiar
  • Having their mood change suddenly & unexpectedly
  • Taking longer to complete simple tasks

How Does Anxiety Increase the Risk of Dementia?

There is a link between mental health and dementia, especially late-onset dementia. Depression can increase the risk of cognitive decline, and it can go hand and hand with anxiety. 

In research relating to dementia and anxiety, there are approximately 30,000 subjects over 4 studies. These 4 studies found similar results: moderate to severe anxiety in someone’s middle years can lead to an increased risk of dementia later in life. 

The stress caused by anxiety can potentially lead to dementia due to the brain aging faster. However, research is still needed to see if these results only relate to late-onset dementia. 

What Else Increases the Risk of Dementia? 

Anxiety isn’t the only potential cause of dementia—several aspects of life can increase someone’s risk. 

Some possible factors increasing the risk of dementia include age, family history, genetics, head injury, and the heart-head connection. 


Age is the greatest risk for dementia, but aging doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop it. The risk of dementia doubles every 5 years after 65. This risk is higher after you turn 85. 

Family History

If someone in your family has dementia, it increases your risk. This risk can be higher, depending on how many people in your family have dementia. Dementia can run in families due to genetics or family environment. 


Research has found that specific genes can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. While genetics will rarely cause dementia, they can influence risk. 

Head Injury

Head injuries can increase the risk of dementia in the future. Protect yourself or your loved one whenever an injury is possible, including sports, walking in winter conditions, or driving in a car. 

Heart-Head Connection

There is evidence that brain health is connected to heart health. Your heart is essential for your overall well-being, including your brain. Conditions like vascular dementia can occur because of damage to your heart, such as: 

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol 

Taking care of your and your loved one’s heart health may help lower the risk of dementia. 

What Can You Do If Your Loved One has Dementia? 

If your loved one has dementia—recently diagnosed or developed—they may enjoy living in a place that meets their unique needs. Senior living communities have different levels of care to support residents of all lifestyles. If your loved one needs additional care, they can always receive more without needing to move. Communities like ours can benefit your loved one, no matter their needs. Contact The Lodge at Historic Lewes if you’re interested in this care for your loved one. We can answer any questions you have, or you can visit our campus in person to see what life is like in our community.

Written by The Lodge at Historic Lewes

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