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Wondering Whether Your Short-Term Memory Loss Is "Mom Brain" Or Something More Serious?

If you've recently had a child, you may look back longingly at what you considered to be a lack of sleep. Newborns and toddlers can be major energy drains, and the combination of sleep deprivation, hormones, and the stress of adjusting to your new lifestyle can be enough to throw any new parent for a loop. But while forgetting what you walked into the room to get as soon as you've arrived can be an all-too-common side effect of new parenthood, there are some situations in which this type of memory loss can indicate a more serious issue. Read on to learn more about some of the most common causes of temporary, short-term memory loss, as well as what you can do to diagnose and treat this issue. 

What Are The Most Common Causes of Short-Term Memory Loss Post-Baby?

There are a few reasons you can find it harder to learn and retain new things and call up old memories during the first few weeks, months, or even years of your child's life. These include: 

  • Sleep Deprivation

One of the biggest contributors toward your recent memory loss may be a lack of sleep. Even if you're somehow still getting close to the recommended eight hours per night, you may find that the quality of your sleep has changed. If you're not waking more frequently to attend to your child, you may still find it harder to settle down to sleep than before as added stressors can kick-start the adrenaline rushes that leave you battling insomnia.

A lack of sleep can leave your brain feeling as though it's not firing on all cylinders. You may find it hard to retain new information or even stumble over a phone number or address you've had committed to memory for years. Fortunately, if sleep deprivation is the root cause of your memory loss, this phenomenon should resolve itself as soon as you've returned to a more "normal" sleep cycle.

  •  Hormone Changes

The hormone changes you've experienced during pregnancy don't automatically end once you've given birth; you may still deal with shifts in your body's levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone for another few weeks or even months as your body seeks out its new normal.

Even if you didn't carry and give birth to your child yourself, you may still deal with hormonal shifts. Studies have found that men can also experience changes in their normal hormone levels during and after a partner's pregnancy, most notably the decline of testosterone. While scientists haven't pinpointed the cause of these changes, some suggest that they may either result from the "sympathy weight gain" some men experience while preparing for fatherhood or happen in preparation for a new nurturing role. 

Regardless of the cause or severity of the hormonal changes you've endured, such changes could be at the root of your memory loss. As with sleep deprivation, hormone disruption is an issue that often solves itself over time; but if you feel as though you're sliding into postpartum depression or psychosis, it's definitely better to seek treatment sooner rather than later. 

When Should You Seek Further Diagnosis or Treatment? 

There are a few situations in which your newfound short-term memory loss may be an indicator that something more is amiss. If you're dealing with headaches that can't be touched by over-the-counter pain relievers, experiencing double vision or blurred vision, or seeing flashes of light or "halos" around objects, you may want to visit a neurologist for a full workup. These symptoms may indicate a small benign brain tumor, high blood pressure, or other conditions that require treatment.

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