Many of you have certainly experienced going out to buy something and when you arrived in the store you forgot what you were planning to buy. Another experience often encountered shows that you can be confronted with a memory lapse in the middle of a conversation. This may indicate that the individual is stressed and that forgetting is caused by the large amount of cortisol produced, a stress hormone, which causes certain parts of the nerve cells to shrink. But contrary to what you previously thought, these parts of the nerve cells can re-create their connections when the stress is over.
Long-term memory in acute stress
When it comes to memory and stress, it is important to distinguish between acute and prolonged stress. In acute stress (when the adrenal glands secrete stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol), attention is directed towards the body’s escape and combat reactions. This means that the person often remembers experiences during acute stress and, therefore, the experience often falls within what is commonly referred to as long-term memory. It is thought that the effect of the function of stress hormones on memory recall depends on the strength of the emotional experience and the interaction of adrenaline with areas of interest in the brain.
Poor memory for prolonged stress
Some of the most common symptoms of long-term stress are poor memory and difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. This is a sign that the body has produced high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, or has entered a state of exhaustion when cortisol levels are abnormally low. Prolonged exposure to large amounts of cortisol can contribute to depression, which in itself may be a mechanism that promotes forgetfulness. When you are experiencing symptoms of long-term stress, the most important thing you can do is to try to reduce it to balance the amount of hormones secreted in the body. But, there are also herbs and nutrition that can help you cope with stress.