7 Health Issues That Can Affect Your Memory

Some people are naturally good at keeping track of things, but I need alarms and to-do lists to get through an average day. According to Fast Company, researchers used to think the average person could only remember around seven things at any specific time, but that theory has been refuted. It's easier to remember information if we feel an emotional connection — if you can recall your best friend's birthday or what your partner was wearing when you first met them, that's why. But memory can also be affected by certain health issues, too — it isn't, as they say, all in your head.

My relationship with memory has always been interesting. I can memorize numbers and figures with ease, which came in handy when I had to take exams in college. But I'm awful with names and faces, and I've embarrassed myself more than once by introducing myself to someone I'd already met. If you have trouble remembering things, it isn't necessarily just the way you are. It could actually be a sign that something is wrong, whether it's with your sleep schedule, vitamin intake or mental wellbeing. If you have great memory recall, it can be a sign that you're in good health. Regardless, your memory can tell you a lot about your health — and these are things to look out for.

1Your Sleep Schedule May Need To Change

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Not getting enough sleep is bad for you for a number of reasons. Not only can it affect your mood and sex drive, but it can also impact your ability to remember things. When you aren't getting enough sleep, you'll have trouble learning and retaining new information, which will affect your ability to recall that information later.

2You Might Need To Add Foods To Your Diet

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If you struggle with memory recall, you can add foods to your diet that may help you remember things. According to WebMD, eating breakfast can help improve your short-term memory. Fish, nuts, avocados and whole grains can also help you concentrate, which will help you keep track of things. There's no guarantee that adding these foods to your diet will make you a memory whiz, but it may be worth a try.

3Your Stress Levels May Be Too High

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You probably already know that stress isn't good for you, but if you're super stressed out all the time, it could affect your memory. Researchers in Sweden found that severe stress can cause people to think they have dementia because of the way it affects memory. If you're mega-stressed, try to practice self-care and take breaks when you feel overwhelmed.

4It Could Be Due To Medication

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If you're taking medication for anxiety, depression, cholesterol, or sleep problems and also struggling with remembering things, the two could be connected. Forgetfulness is a side effect for a ton of prescription medicines, so it's a good idea to talk to a doctor if you're having a hard time with memory recall out of nowhere.

5You Might Be Having Mental Health Problems

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If you're dealing with depression or anxiety, your ability to remember things may be affected as a result. I can personally relate to this — after depressive episodes, I have a hard time recalling simple things. Talk to a mental health professional if you think your memory recall may be related to your mental health.

6Alcohol Use Can Affect Memory, Too

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When you think about alcohol and memory loss, blacking out after a long night of drinking is probably what comes to mind. But if you're regularly drinking lots of alcohol, it could affect your memory in the long run. According to the National Institutes of Health, women are often more susceptible to medical consequences from alcohol overuse.

7You May Need More B12

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If you aren't consuming enough B12, a vitamin that helps with red blood cell function, you might deal with memory loss as a result. According to Harvard Health Publishing, B12 deficiency can be caused by a vegetarian diet or certain prescription medications, like treatment for diabetes. Thankfully, it's a pretty easy problem to fix — you can take B12 supplements to up your intake.

It's best to talk to a doctor if your memory recall is getting worse and before you make any major changes to your daily routine. But if you're constantly missing meetings or forgetting names, it may be worth looking into fixing some of the issues outlined here.