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See Inside April/May 2006

Fixing Forgetfulness

Memory troubles can have everyday causes and simple solutions

IF YOU WAKE UP one morning with a headache, you might assume that you drank one glass of wine too many the previous night, or that the heat was up too high, or that you are coming down with a cold. You are less likely to jump to the conclusion that you have a brain tumor. But when you find yourself forgetting things, then, omigosh, it must be the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Men and women who are middle-aged—or older, especially—are quick to diagnose themselves with inevitable dementia.

There is no need to panic if, lately, you have forgotten an appointment or a friend's birthday or where you placed your keys. The reasons for memory lapses are usually much less dire than suspected. Almost any form of stress or emotional pressure can cause memory problems—a well-documented fact that many people never consider. Figuring out the source of stress, and relieving it, can work wonders.

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