Drawing a blank…

Date: November 1, 2016      Publication: Bottom Line Health      Source:  Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center      Print:

I was recently speaking to my wife and drew a blank for about 15 seconds, trying to think of a simple word. Should I be concerned?

Probably not. Starting in their 40s, many people begin to have lapses in remembering names, occasional difficulty in finding a word and/or slowness in thinking speed (such as mentally adding numbers). Such occasional forgetfulness commonly occurs as we get older and is not necessarily a sign of dementia, as many people fear.

However, memory lapses that occur several times every day could be a sign of an underlying health problem and should be evaluated.


Many health conditions, including depression, thyroid problems and dehydration, can affect memory. Too much stress, too little sleep or a deficiency of vitamin B-12 can make someone forgetful, too.

Many medications, including tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines and drugs that treat high blood pressure and cholesterol, can also cause memory loss. Your doctor may be able to prescribe other drugs that don’t have this side effect.

Signs that memory lapses may be more serious include becoming lost in familiar places, asking the same question repeatedly and getting confused about time, people and places. If any of these signs occur, consult a neurologist.

You can quickly check your brain health with the free risk calculator developed by neurological researchers. Go to The good news is that many people can boost their brain health and performance within weeks.


Source: Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, a neurologist and medical director, NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center, McLean, Virginia. He is also the author of Boost Your Brain.