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Forgetfulness is a problem that affects everyone of all ages. Little children forget to do their chores or homework, and that’s just a normal part of cognitive development. Even healthy, average adults will forget where they put something or why they walked into a room. These are all normal forgetful episodes that usually don’t have bearing on our cognitive health at all. However, there are some situations in which forgetfulness is the sign of a larger problem.

When is Forgetfulness a Sign of Depression?

It can be scary when you’re frequently forgetting things because many people are worried about developing dementia. However, if you’re under 65 years of age, it’s very unlikely that you have dementia since early onset dementia only affects 1% of the population. You may have another mental health condition if you have worse than average forgetfulness. If you’re forgetting things on a daily basis, you may be suffering from depression.

The forgetfulness someone with depression experiences is unique in that it may be frequent but it usually isn’t significantly impacting the individual’s life. They can still function normally, but they may forget whether or not they locked the door or fed their cat. This often occurs because the individual is stressed and preoccupied with other thoughts that go along with a depressive episode.

When is it Dementia?

As we get older, the risks of developing some form of dementia grows stronger. This is more than just a case of forgetfulness and includes other cognitive impairments as symptoms. People with dementia experience frequent mood swings, confusion, and an inability to concentrate. The forgetfulness they experience often deals with complex issues, such as getting lost in an area that should be familiar to them. They also experience sundowner’s syndrome, which involves increased mental fogginess in the evenings.

It’s rare for an individual to realize they’re experiencing dementia on their own. As they experience greater cognitive decline over time, their loved ones or co-workers may be the first to notice the symptoms. If you think a loved one is developing dementia, it’s a good idea to bring them to their doctor. A simple screening process can help the doctor identify the individual’s cause of forgetfulness and he may recommend an effective treatment. While dementia can’t be cured or reversed, the progression of the disease can be slowed through lifestyle changes and medication.