Brain Structure And Function
Depression is linked to widespread changes in brain structure and function including in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. These regions are all involved in cognition, executive function , and emotion processing.
These regions are interlinked via neural circuits, and they send and receive messages from each other, so problems in one region will impact on others. And, the neural circuits responsible for cognition and emotion processing overlap with those that control our stress response systems. So periods of high stress can also impair cognitive function and worsen mood.
The changes in these brain regions seen in depression can have a big impact on how well our brain works during memory tasks. For example, people with depression often have a smaller hippocampus, and had increased activity extending from the prefrontal cortex during a working memory task in which they were asked to remember specific letters. This meant the brains of people with depression brains had to work harder during the memory task by recruiting the help of additional brain regions to perform at the same level as participants who didnt have depression.
How To Treat Or Improve Memory Loss
Dementia treatment must encompass a multidisciplinary approach. Depending on the type of dementia, on the phase that it’s in, and on the patient’s particular characteristics, a neurological, psychiatric, medical, geriatric, psychological, occupational therapy, or other specific therapy may be necessary.
The medical professional treating an Alzheimer’s patient will work to find the proper diagnosis and treatment in order to give the best care possible. Aside from traditional treatment, the cognitive stimulation exercises for Alzheimer’s patients in the early or mild stages has been shown to help delay the effects of the disease, while other types of treatments are usually necessary for more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, scientists and researchers are working to find a way to maintain cognitive abilities as the disease advances and lessen some of the behavioral effects that it causes.
There are also prevention activities that can help slow the speed at which the disease advances. If you can combine a pharmacological treatment with a balanced diet, physical exercise, socialization, and the proper cognitive stimulation, you will have the opportunity to reduce the problems caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s.
High Stress Connected To Memory Loss
Previous studies have found a relationship between cortisol and dementia risk, but the focus has been mostly on the elderly and the memory area of the brain, called the hippocampus.
Amongthe new studys strengths, said Seshadri,is that it looked at a group of men and women with an average age of 48 and did MRI brain scans of the entire brain, not just the hippocampus.
Researchers chose more than 2,000 people with no signs of dementia and gave them various psychological exams to measure their thinking skills.
All were part of the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Its been following the health of residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, and their offspring since 1948.
About eight years after initial testing, the group was reevaluated. Blood serum cortisol was measured before breakfast. Then brain MRIs were done and the series of memory and cognitive tests repeated.
After adjusting the data to consider age, sex, body mass and smoking, the study found people with the highest levels of cortisol had the most memory loss.
I wasnt surprised by the changes in cognition, said Fargo who was not involved in the study. If you have higher cortisol youre probably stressed out and likely to have more difficulty on cognitive tasks.
Don’t Miss: Deer Brain Recipe
When Should You Get Help Detect And Assess Memory Problems
It is quite normal for people with memory problems to not be conscious of their own problem, which is why they are usually first detected by family members.
People who have a history of anxiety or depression tend to focus on errors and mistakes, which will likely cause them to think too much of their memory lapses and make them think they have a memory condition. As long as these memory lapses aren’t habitual and are fairly normal , there’s no cause for alarm.
However, if the person has problems doing daily tasks or seems confused or disoriented, it’s time to see a specialist. You may want to think about writing down certain information, like when you first started seeing these problems, when it got worse, what kinds of things they forget, and how their life is generally affected. The doctor should be able to determine if the person has a significant memory problem, and if they do, what it is. When in doubt, it is always recommended to see a doctor.
It’s important to remember that memory loss doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a serious memory problem like Alzheimer’s Disease. Everyone is forgetful every once in a while, and it does not cause for alarm if it happens occasionally. Our brain needs to forget information in order to efficiently learn and store new information.
Causes Of Memory Loss
Here are some of the more common things that can cause memory loss:
Medications. A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can interfere with or cause loss of memory. Possible culprits include: antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and pain medications given after surgery.
Smoking harms memory by reducing the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain. Studies have shown that people who smoke find it more difficult to put faces with names than do nonsmokers. Illegal drugs can change chemicals in the brain that can make it hard to recall memories.
Sleep deprivation. Both quantity and quality of sleep are important to memory. Getting too little sleep or waking frequently in the night can lead to fatigue, which interferes with the ability to consolidate and retrieve information.
Depression and stress. Being depressed can make it difficult to pay attention and focus, which can affect memory. Stress and anxiety can also get in the way of concentration. When you are tense and your mind is overstimulated or distracted, your ability to remember can suffer. Stress caused by an emotional trauma can also lead to memory loss.
You May Like: Can Hitting Your Head With Your Hand Cause Brain Damage
Chronic Stress Leads To Brain Inflammation And Memory Loss
People who experience chronic stress due to bullying or a tough job also run a higher risk of memory loss, according to a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Researchers led by Jonathan Godbout, associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University, investigated the relationship between prolonged stress and short-term memory loss in mice.
Ultimately, the researchers hope the findings will help people who live with ongoing stress.
The team had mice get used to a maze with an escape hole. They then exposed the mice to repeat visits from a larger, aggressive intruder mouse.
Mice that repeatedly had to confront the intruder found it harder to remember the location of the escape hole, whereas the mice that were not stressed were able to find it.
What To Do If A Family Member Has Memory Loss
If you detect possible memory problems in a loved one, try to encourage them to see a specialist who will be able to help them make a diagnosis. Remember that many people that suffer from memory problems aren’t conscious of the fact that they have them, so they may be reluctant to see a specialist and get help. In these cases, it’s important to have patience and bring the subject up carefully.
Once a medical professional has found a diagnosis, it’s important to follow the guidelines that they set for the patient. If the problem is in an early stage, help the person keep their daily routines both at home and with friends. As one of the main problems with Alzheimer’s Disease is temporal disorientation, it may be helpful to have clocks and calendars well placed throughout the house. It will likely become more difficult for the person to learn new things, but try to get them used to use an agenda or planner to keep track of their activities and appointments. Those close to the person with Alzheimer’s should carefully follow the doctor’s guidelines and make sure that they take their medicine and do the suggested activities. A dementia diagnosis can be difficult for both the patient and their loved ones, which is why it’s important to provide emotional support and help how you can. If you notice any symptoms that might suggest that the patient is suffering from depression, get in touch with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Read Also: Diffuse Slowing Eeg
Trauma And The Hippocampus
To investigate the effects of trauma on the hippocampus researchers looked at the brains of coal miners who had developed posttraumatic stress disorder after being involved in an explosion . The researchers found that the coal miners with PTSD had significantly reduced volume of the amygdala and hippocampus in comparison to non-traumatized coal miners.
These findings hold important implications when it comes to memory. Reduced volume in the hippocampus and amygdala due to chronic stress reduces the ability to form and recall memories.
How To Reduce Stress And Improve Your Memory
While we can work over the long-term to removecertain stressors from our lives, it is unrealistic to think that wecan completely overcome stress and shake off the effects of chronicstress immediately. What we can do, however, is make small changes toour daily lives that reduce its effects on our bodies and minds. Beloware a number of natural ways to relieve stress:
- Diet Many of the foods recommended to combatthe long- term effects of stress also play a part in improving memory.Among these are berries, nuts, fish and other lean proteins, freshvegetables, green tea, hearty whole grains and dark chocolate. BrainFoods like blueberries, avocados and wild salmon are particularly goodfor memory boosting as they contain antioxidants and essentialvitamins. Incorporating these powerful foods into your diet can helpyou reduce stress and protect your memory health.
- Physical exercise Finding and maintaining anexercise routine that you enjoy can help you beat stress and improveyour memory. Exercise releases endorphins which improves mood andcognitive function while reducing overall fatigue by promoting restfulsleep. Whether it’s a brisk walk around the block, joining acompetitive sports team or taking up yoga at the local gym, gettingphysical is one of the best stress management strategies.
Search Improve Memory Skills
Also Check: Brain Bleed From Fall Prognosis
If Youre Experiencing Forgetfulness Or Confusion Check Your Medicine Cabinet
For a long time doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as a normal part of aging. But scientists now know that memory loss as you get older is by no means inevitable. Indeed, the brain can grow new brain cells and reshape their connections throughout life.Most people are familiar with at least some of the things that can impair memory, including alcohol and drug abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, head injuries, stroke, sleep deprivation, severe stress, vitamin B12 deficiency, and illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
But what many people don’t realize is that many commonly prescribed drugs also can interfere with memory. Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.
How The Body Reacts To Stress
Whether we are running for our lives, cramming foran exam orwalking into a job interview, our brain releases the stress-relatedhormones adrenaline and cortisol to help our bodies cope in moments ofacute stress.
- Adrenaline increases the heart rate and bloodpressure, providing extra energy. This is what we think of as the fightor flight response.
- Cortisol increases glucose in the blood andshuts down certain non-essential functions like reproduction anddigestion so the body has more energy for the task at hand.
When the crisis is over, the body returns to itspreviously calm state and these hormones return to regular levels. Allof this is well and good but when the crisis does not abate and weremain in a stressed out state for days or weeks on end, we havemoved from acute stress to chronic stress.
Don’t Miss: Fluoride Metabolism
Stress Memory And Animals
Much of the research relating to stress and memory has been conducted on animals and can be generalized to humans. One type of stress that is not easily translatable to humans is predator stress: the anxiety an animal experiences when in the presence of a predator. In studies, stress is induced by introducing a predator to a subject either before the learning phase or between the learning phase and the testing phase. Memory is measured by various tests, such as the radial arm water maze . In the RAWM, rats are taught the location of a hidden platform and must recall this information later on to find the platform and get out of the water.
Anxiety And Memory Loss
Memory loss can be a confusing and frightening anxiety symptom. It’s also an extremely common symptom, but the memories that people lose are often so minute that people don’t realize they’re losing them.
Memory loss is a byproduct of stress, but various other anxiety symptoms can actually create further memory loss as well. Below, we’ll explore the effects of memory loss on anxiety and provide tips for controlling it.
You May Like: Brain Tanning A Deer Hide
Memory Stress And Anxiety
The relationship between stress and memory is complex in order to remember things the brain needs to process memories this involves many different steps. Although a small amount of stress can improve your memory, in high doses, and for prolonged periods of time, it can have a negative impact on your cognitive processes and function.
Stress requires a lot of resources from the brain and this can interfere with the brains capacity to remember new information and the processing of memories. Patients experiencing stress and anxiety often find it difficult to sleep and as mentioned above, this can also contribute to problems with memory.
When you feel anxious, this causes the bodys stress hormone level to increase. High levels of cortisol can make it more difficult to recall memories, studies have shown.
Additionally, one of the main symptoms of anxiety is racing thoughts, and when you have many thoughts running through your mind this can make it difficult to focus on what youre trying to remember.
Ultimately, in cases where stress and/or anxiety is the cause of memory issues, understanding the root cause is the first step on the road to improving your memory. Once the cause has been acknowledged, you can take steps to combat it. Once the stress and anxiety is reduced, memory should improve. Not only this, but it will also increase your quality of life.
What Can You Do To Improve Memory
Improving your memory starts by simply integrating more strategies to ensure that your brain is kept active. For example:
- Reduce Your Anxiety Level The most important thing that you can do to improve memory deficits caused by anxiety is to reduce your anxiety. You can do this by going into therapy Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of anxiety disorders. You can also get mindfulness training or learn how to meditate.
- Start a Daily Journal Keep a daily journal of the things you did during the day and the things you want to remember. Be as specific as possible, and then re-read that journal often to keep those memories alive. You’ll start to train your brain to remember these things better, and over time your memory should improve overall.
- Exercise Innumerable studies have established that physical exercise will improves your cognitive abilities including memory. Exercise can also relieve anxiety, so you get both benefits when you go jogging more.
- Learn Mnemonics There are many different tools that improve memory. Simply keeping your memory active is one step. Another is to work on mental strategies that are effective at creating memories faster and with easier recall.
- Sleep Many sleep researchers believe that sleep is actually when most memo are consolidated and become memories. During sleep, your brain processes various thoughts and turns them into long-term memories. Make sure you’re sleeping often to keep your memories alive.
Recommended Reading: Cognitive Impairment Parkinson’s Disease
Other Causes Of Memory Loss
Other reasons you may experience memory loss can include the following:
- Normal age-related memory loss is common and manageable. One example of this is forgetting where you put your glasses but remembering later in the day.
- Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia. It can cause progressive, irreparable brain damage and memory loss.
- Mild cognitive impairment can alter thinking skills and eventually progress to Alzheimers disease or other forms of dementia.
- Minor head injury or trauma can trigger slight memory problems, even if you didnt lose consciousness.
- Forgetfulness is a potential side effect of certain medications.
- Brain tumors or brain infections can affect your memory or trigger dementia-like symptoms.
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency can create problems with your memory. This is because youre not maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
- Alcoholism or drug abuse can impair your mental state and abilities. This can also occur when alcohol interacts with medications.
- Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism, which can lead to memory problems and other issues with thinking.
- Brain or nerve damage caused by diseases such as Parkinsons disease or multiple sclerosis can cause memory problems. A 2013 study found that people with depression have a greater risk of developing Parkinsons disease.