Sudden moments of forgetfulness or lack of focus can be unsettling, young people tend to just shrug it off, but the older we get, the more we worry that it may be memory function problems due to ageing.
Struggling to concentrate or focus:
It's reading the same thing for the third or fourth time and still not getting the gist of it, or realising that nothing was absorbed, or you've just sat staring at the page for 20 minutes.
You look at someone with whom you work everyday, and suddenly brain fade - you cannot remember their name.
You know you put the car keys in your pocket, but they are not there and turn up in the bathroom or fridge!
So let's look at the common causes for muddle-minds, and the high levels of negative environmental stressors which aid the deterioration in memory function.
Medical / Physical Causes
A blood flow problem in the brain can result in a sometimes severe memory loss or failure to concentrate. Visualisation and occupational therapy can assist in rebuilding some mental skills.
According to neuropsychology experts, the brain does not differentiate between what is actually being done and what is only visualised. Visualisation therapy can therefore help the brain/body re-learn after a traumatic injury.
The thyroid gland produces the hormone thyroxine which regulates how much energy the body uses.
See you doctor if you have the following symptoms of thyroid deficiency, replacement medication is the usual treatment.
• weight gain
• being sensitive to the cold
• dry skin and hair
• muscle aches
Weakness and exhaustion can result from the lack of red blood cells, as oxygen is not transported properly in the body. Anaemia is successfully treated by nutritional supplements containing iron.
Stress and Anxiety plays havoc with your health and your concentration. Use relaxation methods such as yoga, walking, deep breathing and maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the mental effects of stressful situations.
Depression - one of the common symptoms of depression is lack of focus. Deep depression can make it impossible to work or study effectively, and medical treatment may be necessary.
Sleep Deprived - Obvious one this, but prolonged sleep disturbances may require a doctor's visit to determine any underlying causes.
Substance Abuse - Any dependence on alcohol or recreational drugs will cause the brain to function less effectively. If you are on medication, check with your doctor that the side effects of the drug are not interfering with mental cognition.
- Pregnancy - especially in the later months, many women report forgetfulness and lack of focus.
- Menopause - A temporary disruption to mental acuity, may be experienced by some women, according to a study by the American University of Rochester's Medical Centre.
A knock on the head from sports or a fall can cause temporary confusion, while a more serious injury like a car accident could cause permanent damage leading to concentration difficulties.
In older people a common cause of injury is a fall which could result in confusion.
Immediate treatment after a head injury is vital to keep damage to a minimum.
Here are the symptoms of a mild head injury:
• Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
• No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
• Memory or concentration problems
• Dizziness or loss of balance
• Nausea or vomiting
• Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth
• Sensitivity to light or sound
• Mood changes or mood swings
• Feeling depressed or anxious
• Fatigue or drowsiness
• Difficulty sleeping
• Sleeping more than usual
A more serious head injury exhibits some or all of the following symptoms:
• Loss of consciousness from a few minutes to hours
• Profound confusion
• Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
• Slurred speech
• Inability to awaken from sleep
• Weakness or numbness in the extremities
• Loss of coordination
• Loss of bladder control or bowel control
• Persistent headache or headache that worsens
• Repeated vomiting or nausea
• Convulsions or seizures
• Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
• Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
Recent studies found links between some movement difficulties, problems with the sense of smell and MCI or mild cognitive impairment.
Alzheimer's disease causes damage to the brain and short-term memory loss is often the first sign, along with word finding, vision/spatial issues, impaired reasoning and getting lost. Various medications are used to slow the progression of the disease and improve some of the effects.
Memory loss should be a cause for concern when it interferes with social, work or home life. However, there must be a perceived deterioration from a previous level of functioning, such as others commenting upon your forgetfulness or other symptoms, either mental or physical, are present.
Brain Exercise to Focus your Mind
Ensuring you Keep an Un-Muddled Brain
Physical exercise and a healthy diet is a natural given.
Keeping mentally active is the best approach - use it or lose it!
Try the following for staying in top mental shape:
- Make an effort to include a new challenge in your mental activities, say learning a new language, a musical instrument, or anything else involving brain cells
- Tackling the puzzles in the newspapers and magazines is a good mental exercise. Look up those clues you couldn't complete and see how you went wrong.
- Strategy computer games, or play station TV games, can be fun and challenging and don't have to involve guns and war if you don't enjoy that aspect.
- Keep positive, make time for relaxation and get enough sleep. If something doesn't feel right, please have a medical check up to ensure there is not an underlying cause.
- Telephone numbers used to be kept in our heads, so we could get in touch with important contacts within minutes. Many of us don't even know the phone numbers of our spouses, friends or close colleagues, but rely on electronic storage capacity of the phones we use everyday. Try learning the important ones.
- See if you have the important stuff in your memory banks, such as car registration number, bank account number, electronic banking log in, Tax number, etc. If not, maybe take the time to commit them to memory.
- Be sure to set aside periods in the day when your email and messages take second place to other tasks or close it completely for an hour or two.
Ways to look after your Brain
- Forgetfulness - Not Always Serious
Forgetfulness is not necessarily the forerunner of dementia, Alzheimer's nor part of an age-related mental decline. We look at all sides of forgetfulness from the serious to the funny.
- Dementia Risk? Keep Your Memory Sharp
New research shows that making simple lifestyle changes can significantly cut the risk of dementia.
- Which eReader is Best - Kindle or iPad?
If you are still thinking about whether or not an EReader is a good idea, read about the pros and cons of the Amazon Kindle and Apple IPad.
- Retirement - Now What?
What to do now that you have retired, to maintain your vitality and ensure that you and your lifestyle are exhilarating.
© 2012 Shelley Watson
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Shelley Watson (author) on October 19, 2013:
My goodness what an awful time you went through. So glad everything is coming together again - I know my mother had a bad time with her thyroid, and then her marriage to my father fell apart, but luckily she is till here today and as bright as a button. Hugs to you!
CraftytotheCore on September 28, 2013:
You were speaking to me here CyberShelley! LOL, I have fog brain most days. I had 1/2 of my thyroid out two years ago. I went through a terrible time with my memory. There are still things I cannot recall from that period of time.
I went through a period of time where I had overwhelming stress. It zapped my brain. There were moments during that time where I couldn't even remember my own phone number. It became very scary. Thankfully I'm through that now and can look forward to getting back on track with life again.
Thank you for these tips!
Billy Bay from Florida, USA on February 14, 2013:
Hi Shelley, Thanks for the great read and interesting things to think about. I'll be passing this post on. Voted UP!
Shelley Watson (author) on January 11, 2013:
vespawoolf, Thank you for your comment which always add value to my article, I appreciate it. My mother does crossword puzzles, and balances her chequebook etc, without using a calculator, also says its good brain exercise. Still has all her faculties at 86 this year.
DDE You are very kind and thank you for your comments and visit.
carozy, Great you stopped by, very scary when things go wrong with the brain and one loses 'traction'!
carozy from San Francisco on January 11, 2013:
Very thorough article. I am interested in concentrating and focusing the mind for memorization. I didn't realize all the ailments that can affect memory! Good suggestions also.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 10, 2013:
These are health reasons that should be taken seriously thanks for sharing such valuable information. Voted up!
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on November 30, 2012:
Stress and hormones are the culprits of brain muddling in my case. The list of activities to keep us sharp are really helpful. I know my grandmother does crossword puzzles for that very reason! Thanks so much
Shelley Watson (author) on November 18, 2012:
Midget38 Great to have you visit and my thanks for your thoughtful comments.
ChristinS, Thank you for visiting and for your interesting comments. Suduku is one of my favourite puzzles.
Christin Sander from Midwest on November 18, 2012:
As someone who deals with this quite frequently I can relate to this hub and I found it most informative. I find when I try to do too much multi-tasking it makes me overwhelmed and makes me clumsy and forgetful. Along with doing puzzles and such to keep my mind sharp, I also developed a love for making lists :)
Michelle Liew from Singapore on November 18, 2012:
A great hub! I enjoyed all the reasons that causes our mind not to focus, and your suggestions for coping as well. I think it will be extremely useful for anybody, because we will definitely experience stressful moments. Thanks for sharing!
Shelley Watson (author) on October 15, 2012:
Miss Mimi, Thanks so much for your comments which says we are both on the same page!
Miss Mimi from On the road again on October 15, 2012:
Nice article. I've always been adamant that being active helps brain function. I also really like your ideas for staying in top mental shape. Voted up, thanks for posting this!
Shelley Watson (author) on October 14, 2012:
Mama Kim 8, great talking to you again, thanks for the votes I really appreciate it.
Sasha Kim on October 14, 2012:
Great hub! I completely relate to your exampled of a muddled mind! Usually whenever I have to read the same sentence 3 times I stop trying and go to sleep! Voting this all over and sharing!
freecampingaussie from Southern Spain on October 01, 2012:
Very interesting article - a lot to think about when I can remember why I came to your site lol ! ..... To recommend your hub !!
Shelley Watson (author) on September 29, 2012:
thelyricwriter, Thank you so much for your very generous votes and comments, I so appreciate the lift!
Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on September 29, 2012:
Shelley, awesome article! This is a class "A" write Shelley. Very informative and useful information. A great write. With so many things going on in life, it can be hard to stay focus. If we loose that focus, life can become harder, work, ect. Will keep this one handy. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared Shelley. Once again, great work! Best wishes.
Shelley Watson (author) on September 23, 2012:
shiningirisheyes, Take care of that sense of humour, just the thought of that combination gives me the giggles!
billybuc, Thank you for the kind comments, but I am sure you won't need any help focusing! So glad you visited.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2012:
Excellent article and great information. I am about as focused a person as you will ever meet, but I'll bookmark this one just in case it is needed in the future.
Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on September 23, 2012:
I will consider that.
I will also refrain from taking a sleeping pill and a laxative at the same time! LOL (My sick attempt at humor, which also seems to work well to alleviate my worry).
Take care friend
Shelley Watson (author) on September 23, 2012:
shiningirisheyes, Beckie, thanks for visiting. As this is a very stressful time for you perhaps you could take a good Vitamin B Complex to calm the nerves and help with stress. Thank you for the vote
Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on September 23, 2012:
I am currently experiencing quite a few of these - sleep deprivation, stress ....., having recently experienced unemployment. I am a worrier at heart.
This article helps to "unmuddle" and put into perspective my current situation.
Great write and I'm voting up.