Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental health condition in which the affected individual has persistent fear in mind of an impending doom and is a constant worrier.(1)
Some of the situations causing anxiety to the individual may be totally out of proportion and even at times completely irrational. Generalized anxiety disorder can be quite disabling to such an extent that the affected individual may find it difficult to even carry out normal activities of daily living.(1)
Forgetfulness is yet another symptom of generalized anxiety.(2) Memory of an individual gets impacted when the body is under stress or if an individual has a bad mood, which is quite common in people with anxiety disorder.(2) Persistent Anxiety causes the brain to function below its normal level, thus affecting the overall memory of the individual.(2)
Anxiety and Working Memory
Our brain has different memory functions that work differently. The hippocampus controls the long term memory of an individual.(3,4) The working memory helps an individual to retain events happening in the recent past or the short term memory(5,7) Working memory is extremely crucial as this memory system is at work when doing everyday tasks(6,7)
If working memory is not functioning normally then it may lead to mistakes at work, problems focusing and concentrating leading to incomplete tasks, and issues with multitasking(7) The working memory of an individual is unfortunately significantly affected by extreme worry or a condition like anxiety disorder.(8,9) Anxiety disorder causes undue worry which leads to an individual not being able to focus and concentrate on tasks causing mistakes.(9) People also tend to forget important things as a result of anxiety.(9)
Is Forgetfulness A Symptom Of Anxiety?
There have been many researches’ conducted to identify the relationship between working memory or forgetfulness and anxiety disorder. Almost all the result of the researches came up with a conclusion that there is a definite link between anxiety and forgetfulness.(2)
All the studies showed that anxiety significantly influences the working memory and makes the individual more forgetful. This signifies that people with high levels of anxiety tend to have limited capacity to solve complex problems; cope up with high pressure situations like at work; overall performance declines at school level or at work; and above all the decision making ability of the individual gets severely impacted. Thus, it can be said for sure that forgetfulness is definitely a symptom of anxiety.(2)
The Importance of Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a condition which causes extreme worry in individuals, tends to affect the working memory. Thus, it is highly recommended that the individual consults with a psychiatrist and gets treated for anxiety to get over this annoying symptom of forgetfulness and memory problems that arises with it.
Timely intervention will definitely help the patient suffering from anxiety better able to cope up with situations and therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy will teach the patient how to be alert and improve focus and concentration; thus improving anxiety and overall memory of the patient.(10)
The therapist can also teach the patient certain techniques to remember important things and allow the patient to become as normal as possible and fare much better in both personal and professional life. There are also certain medications, which are used for treating anxiety that can also help in calming down the symptoms and in turn improve forgetfulness caused due to anxiety disorder.