“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Short-Term Memory and Concentration Problems - Anxiety Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: June 15, 2020


Short-term memory and concentration problems:

  • You have difficulty concentrating or it feels like your short-term memory isn’t as good as it used to be.
  • You may also notice that normal tasks seem hard to focus on, you are more forgetful, you forget things that you normally wouldn’t, or you have difficulty forming thoughts or carrying on conversations.
  • You may also start something and uncharacteristically forget what you were doing soon after.
  • You may also have difficulty remembering where you placed things, who you just called, what you just talked about, or what you were looking for or thinking about.
  • You uncharacteristically may have difficulty remembering what you just ate, phone numbers, names, or things you recently did.
  • Things that you would normally not forget, you now do.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you might experience a memory or concentration problem once in a while and not that often, experience it off and on, or all the time.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

What causes the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptom?

Anxiety causes the body to produce the stress response (also known as the fight or flight response). The stress response stresses the body, which can have an adverse effect on brain functioning. Research has found that stress can impair the short-term learning and concentration areas of the brain. This is why when stress elevates, many people experience short-term memory and concentration problems.

Visit our "Memory Loss" anxiety symptom for more detailed information.

How to get rid of the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptoms?

Since short-term memory loss is a symptom of stress, it needn't be a cause for concern. Your normal memory will return when you reduce your stress and give your body sufficient time to recover from the adverse effects of stress. As your body recovers, symptoms of stress subside, including the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptoms.

Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website is our anxiety symptoms chapter. It contains detailed information about all anxiety symptoms, including what they are, why they occur, what you can do to eliminate them, and how many people experience them (the percentage of people who experience each anxiety symptom). Our anxiety symptoms chapter includes a more detailed description and explanation about the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptoms.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety symptom short-term memory impairment and concentration problems.