Can Worrying Disrupt Your Memory?

Can Worrying Disrupt Your Memory?

April 16, 2012  |  Memory Techniques

You might have to bid your phenomenal memory goodbye if you constantly worry. Several studies have found that worrying and being anxious can disrupt a person’s memory, especially in adults. If you think about it, this really isn’t surprising. How many times have you forgotten about many other important things because of one thing you’re so worried about it occupies all of your thoughts? Anxiety can even make you forget your happy memories, your tasks for the day, and your meals.

At least two research efforts can be cited for this. First, neuropsychology researchers at Chicago’s Rush University have found that people who feel negative emotions more often are more likely to incur memory problems when they age1. The study found that most of the subjects who experienced constant psychological distress, negative emotions, and anxiety were developing mild cognitive impairment.

The findings indicate that stress and worrying can affect that area in the brain where stress response is governed. Unfortunately, the same part of the brain is responsible for regulating memory. This means that there is a link between worrying and memory disruption. If you want to retain your phenomenal memory, you should stay positive and avoid worrying in any form. Just go with the flow and try to be cheerful always.

The second study2 was held at North Carolina State University. The researchers there concluded that thinking positively can help retain good memory abilities especially as a person grows older. Interestingly, this study found that people who believe that it is just natural for aging people to experience diminishing memory are more likely to really develop impairment of memory. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In general, everyone will at some point have to deal with and experience negative emotions. The way each individual responds to psychological response is maintained all throughout the years until those people reach their adult lives. This is the reason many experts are now recommending ways to stop and prevent worrying too much and on a daily basis.

Aside from thinking positively and avoiding anxiety, anyone can work on keeping a good memory through investing in memory programs.

  1. Source: R.S.Wilson, Chronic distress and incidence of mild cognitive impairment, 2007
  2. Source (pdf): B. Fredrickson, Emotion and Working Memory: Evidence for Domain-Specific Processes for Affective Maintenance, 2008
About the author

ABDERISAK ADAM is an author, blog writer and a PhD candidate in the institution of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. He is also the owner and webmaster of, a website dedicated to the discussion of study techniques in the context of higher education. Adam is the author of a number of publications including 'The Study Guide PRO'. You can connect with him through Google+, Linkedin or by submitting a form.

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