Memory problems are quite common and experienced by many people during their lives. Not all memory problems mean that there is something seriously wrong. For example, lack of sleep or being tired could affect memory and concentration. Strong emotions could also affect our ability to recall
things. Individuals who are very depressed often have poor memory which can improve once their
depression gets better.
There are also some physical health conditions that might cause poor memory, for example thyroid
disorder, deficiency in certain vitamins (for example vitamin B12) and imbalance in minerals. Brain
injuries or traumas might also cause memory problems.
Individuals who abuse alcohol are at risk of developing memory problems because they might have
thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is known as vitamin B1 and is very important for brain cells
metabolism. This deficiency causes nerve cell damage in the brain and over time, could lead to
Alcohol related dementia.
Memory problems are concerning due to their link with dementia. It is important to point out that
with age, most people get more forgetful and often describe some problems including occasional
forgetfulness or minor word finding difficulties (that “tip of the tongue” moment when the person
knows what he/she wants to say but can’t quite remember the word).
Age-related memory problems do not mean that the person has dementia. Dementia affects more
than just the memory function. Individuals with dementia have problems in other areas, for
example, language, thinking, communication, social behaviour etc. There are special cognitive
assessments and other investigations that help clarify the diagnosis. For example, a brain scan might
show if there are any changes in the brain that might explain memory problems.
There are effective treatment options available for dementia patients, for example medication
(cognitive enhancers including Donepezil/Aricept). Some patients benefit from cognitive
rehabilitation and/or nutritional improvements. It is advisable to keep physically active whenever
To summarise, it is important to have a proper assessment of all memory problems by a qualified
psychiatrist to identify the reason and to have an effective treatment plan.