Are you forgetful? Here are 5 reasons for memory loss

वाढता वयानुसार वृद्धपकाळात स्मरणशक्ती कमजोर होते. परंतू ऐन तारुण्यातच तुमच्यामधील विसरभोळेपणा वाढत असल्यास काळजी घेणे आवश्यक आहे. स्मरणशक्ती वाढवण्यासाठी जसे काही पदार्थ मदत करतात. तसेच आहारातील काही पदार्थांच्या अतिसेवनामुळे स्मरणशक्ती कमजोरदेखील होऊ शकते.

Here are 5 reasons you might be suffering from memory loss.

Our memories are in many ways the essence of who we are as human beings. Our memories tell us about who we are, events that touched our lives, our experiences, people that are important to us and people we are important to.

It is but natural then that we would be concerned immensely if we seem to be forgetting things and people, or try hard to remember where we placed our glasses or when we were supposed to meet our dentist.

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Sigmund Freud suggests that people forget certain things in order to repress them, things like unpleasant memories. Scientists explain forgetfulness citing two reasons first, the brain failing to retrieve information such as when someone is trying to recall a seldom-used fact; and second, decay, which means the information is 'erased' from the memory.

But how does our memory work?

Memory can be categorized into three groups:

  • Sensory memory, which receives information about sight, smell, touch, and other senses, and routes it to other parts of the body if the brain instructs it to do so.
  • Short-term memory, which is a system for storing, managing, and retrieving cognitive information such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension.
  • Long-term memory, which is a system for storing, managing, and retrieving information for later use. Long-term memory may be available lifelong. Long-term memory can again be semantic memory (storing general facts, problem solving skills, and concepts) and procedural memory (sort of a 'how-to' manual, for example, riding a bike).

The medical definition for memory loss or amnesia is the inability to remember things. Most of the time it is the result of normal changes in structure and function of the brain as we get older and it is called age-related memory loss. This is not a serious memory problem such as dementia, Alzheimer's or other brain disorders.

Age related memory loss

As everyone gets older it becomes more difficult to remember things, especially if one is getting over 60 years of age. This is because like other parts of the body, the brain also changes with age. How? Here's how.

Parts of the brain that handle cognitive functions, learning, memory, and planning shrink with age.

  • Neurons (nerve cells) in the brain stop communicating efficiently. This is of course a gradual process.
  • Arteries narrow with age and new blood vessels stop forming, so less blood reaches the brain thus slowing down its activity.
  • Plaques may form that block communication between the neurons.
  • Inflammation in the brain increases.
  • Damage by free radicals increase as the brain ages.

However, recent studies have indicated that the aging brain actually improves in certain areas such as vocabulary and other verbal forms. Another interesting finding is that the brain continues to develop new neurons even late in life. So essential communications can still be maintained through these neurons.

Mild cognitive impairment

Other common causes of memory loss include

Depression: Some people with depression may have slowed down thinking and mental abilities. Other symptoms could be

  • Low mood most of the time, irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite
  • Difficulty with affection
  • Loss of interest in life, poor motivation, sadness, guilt
  • Tiredness

Medication: Certain medication too could cause memory loss or forgetfulness. This condition however improves once the medication is stopped.

  • Anti-anxiety drugs Alprazolam, diazepam, temazepam, chlordiazepoxide, etc.
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs (Statins) Atorvastatin, lovastatin, fluvastatin, etc.
  • Antiseizure drugs Acetazolamide, carbamazepine, ezogabine, gabapentin, etc.
  • Antidepressants Amitriptyline, clomipramine, doxepin, imipramine, etc.
  • Painkillers Fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, etc.
  • Hypertension drugs Beta blockers such as atenolol, carvedilol, metoprolol, propranolol, etc.
  • Sleeping aids Eszopiclone, zaleplon, etc.
  • Dopamine agonists to treat Parkinson's disease, certain pituitary tumors, and sometimes restless legs syndrome.
  • Antihistamines Brompheniramine, carbinoxamine, chlorpheniramine, clemastine, etc.
  • Incontinence drugs Oxybutynin (Oxytrol), darifenacin, etc.

Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can directly affect the way brain functions. Some of these conditions are

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Underactive thyroid, in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient hormones
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage, that is, bleeding in the brain
  • Vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency
  • Transient global amnesia in which there is a sudden episode of memory loss that cannot be recalled afterwards
  • Brain tumour
  • Alcohol misuse

Dementia and the various types of dementia

Dementia is perhaps the most severe of the memory problems that affects your daily life. It usually occurs in people who are over 65 years of age. Dementia is actually not a disease but a syndrome that consists of loss of functions involving memory, thinking speed and reasoning. Symptoms of dementia include

  • Forgetting recent events
  • Difficulty remembering names and places
  • Asking questions repetitively
  • Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • Difficulty planning and organizing
  • Difficulty in verbal skills
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Depression

Dementia can be caused by all the above mentioned causes plus 60 different illness, but the primary and most common cause is the Alzheimer's disease which account for 50 to 60 percent of dementia cases.

Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's is a memory loss disease caused by degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the brain. Although scientists are not sure how Alzheimer's is caused, but they have observed that

  • Alzheimer's tissue have fewer nerve cells and synapses (joints connecting nerve cells) as compared with a healthy brain.
  • Plaques (abnormal clusters of protein fragments between nerve cells) and tangles (twisted strands of protein called tau) cause the cell death and tissue loss.

These two characteristics are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by problems in supplying blood to the brain because of damaged vascular system. Vascular damage occur because of high blood pressure, heart problems, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. So, get yourself treated at the earliest for these conditions.

Typically, the symptoms of this type of dementia begins suddenly, for example, after a stroke. Seizures, physical weakness or paralysis, difficulty walking, visual problems, hallucinations, and incontinence are some of the symptoms of vascular dementia.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease

It is similar to Alzheimer's disease in that this type of dementia is caused by tiny deposits of spherical proteins in the nerve cells. These proteins are named after the doctor who first identified them.

The presence of Lewy bodies causes

  • Loss of connections between nerve cells
  • Lowering the levels of acetylcholine and dopamine, the two important chemical messengers of the brain.

Lewy bodies at the base of the brain, in the outer layers, cause problems with movement that is the main cause of Parkinson's disease, problems with cognitive skills and are characteristic of DLB.

Fronto-temporal dementia is caused when the nerve cells in the frontal lobes (situated right above the forehead) of brain are damaged.

Similarly, when infectious agents damage the central nervous system they cause a memory loss problem such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. However, these are rare types of dementia.

Memory loss problems is a much researched subject and the scientists are still trying to uncover the various mysteries of brain functioning and memories.

'Recent research has greatly enhanced our understanding of how memories are formed and what really happens in the brain when memory loss occurs,' says Dr. Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, Director, Division of Neurosciences, National Institute of Aging. 'Findings are helping us focus on the very earliest stages, when normal aging may be giving way to a disease process such as AD. Knowing more about these early events will help us understand what may trigger the AD process and will contribute to improved diagnosis and effective treatments'.



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