Memory impairment and loss are usually associated with older women and men, but in some cases younger people can also present these symptoms or side effects.
Although memory impairment and loss are not very common in youth, especially memory loss, it’s important to be aware of what the underlying causes could be.
Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a clinical assistant professor at New York University, explained some possible causes of memory loss and impairment in young women.
“It’s not very common, and usually when it occurs it’s in the context, at least from a psychiatric point of view, of mental health issues,” Varma said.
Some mental disorders and issues associated with memory loss and impairment are mood disorder, anxiety disorders (like post-traumatic stress disorder), trauma, ADD and substance abuse.
“If people are having impairment in memory, it’s often associated with impairment in attention and/or concentration as well,” Varma said.
Memory loss or impairment are not the main problems – usually there are other causes.
“There’s really no one common cause of memory loss per se,” Varma said. “Often you uncover that there are disturbances in memory, but it’s related to something else. Depression is one of the most common causes of memory loss.”
She added that depression is a common cause of memory loss when accounting for dementia-related memory loss and when focusing on psychiatric causes.
“The cause of the problem is not totally clear. We know that serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters … that affects our mood, but it also affects our concentration,” Varma said.
Although rare, there is a possibility for early-onset Alzheimer’s, but that’s generally more common in 40 to 50-year-olds, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website. Pregnancy, poor diet and menopause can also cause memory loss, according to a few studies.
Varma suggests going to a doctor first to “rule out any medical causes” of memory loss or impairment, which can include hypothyroidism, lupus and diabetes. After that, she suggests seeing a psychiatrist.