Does Stress Cause Memory Problems?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I am a 27-year-old female, and I truly feel something is wrong with my memory. I often get very frustrated because I try so hard to remember and I can't. I have to re-read things many times because I can never remember what I've read. Could stress have something to do with this?

Doctor's response

Stress is not known to have any physical effects on the brain that could lead to impaired memory. There are many different disease processes that can affect the brain and lead to memory loss.

People who are under stress, however, may often experience distraction due to an overly full schedule and multiple demands upon their time and energy. This distraction or emotional disturbance might be one reason that it is difficult to retain information. If you are concerned about memory loss, talk to your doctor. He or she can determine whether you are experiencing true memory loss related to a medical condition.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care



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Reviewed on 8/24/2017