Don’t Be Surprised To Know What Affects The Memory
A middle aged working woman, multitasking with her home, children and work responsibilities suddenly feels she cannot keep pace with her life and feels stressed.
She leaves her home to go to the supermarket without her car keys, then reaches the super market and forgets her purse there.
Lisa met an old friend in the mall after ages but failed to recollect her name.
It was the last day to pay the phone bill but it skipped Aaron’s mind.
Do the above circumstances sound familiar to you? I am pretty sure they happen to all of us every now and then. But do not panic as some amount of forgetfulness or memory loss, as it is termed, is common as one’s age advances. However, it could be something to worry about if this pattern gets repetitive. These memory lapses are often treatable once the cause has been identified and treated.
What is Memory?
Memory is the ability to remember all the stored information and experiences.
There are three steps in the process of creating a memory:
- Acquisition – It involves learning new things.
- Consolidation – It involves making the memory stable in the brain.
- Recall – It refers to the ability to access the memory when required in the future.
Types of Memory
- Retrospective Memory/Long-term Memory
- Prospective Memory / Short-term Memory
You would be surprised to know the various factors that can affect our memory.
Factors That Affect Our Memory
In stressful situations the brain releases hormones which affect memory encoding. Over-secretion of these stress hormones can impair long term memory.
Practices like meditation and yoga are not only beneficial to the body but also to the brain. It relaxes the body, reduces stress and helps in improving short-term memory.
- Thyroid Dysfunction
Thyroid, a seemingly small gland, plays a very important role in the human body. It regulates the metabolism of every organ in the body. Hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone) can result in forgetfulness. It affects verbal memory and makes it difficult to concentrate. Hyperthyroidism (high levels of thyroid hormone) on the other hand affects the ability to focus. So if the cause is treated the memory problem is usually reversible. But a thyroid disease often goes undiagnosed.
Menopause is often synonymous with hot flushes and night sweats but it can greatly affect the memory as well. Symptoms of menopause like the hormonal imbalance of Oestrogen and Testosterone, hot flushes and interrupted sleep make it very difficult to focus and absorb information.
- Lack Of Sleep
Studies show that while we are asleep the Hippocampus-the part of our brain involved in memory formation replays the events of the day for the neocortex, where it reviews and processes memories. Sleep affects memory consolidation. A minimum of 8 hours sleep is recommended by experts. A person deprived of sleep will find it difficult to focus, thereby hampering his learning abilities. Also read https://www.drbatras.ae/health-benefits-of-sleep
Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that goes to the brain. Nicotine and other toxic chemicals in cigarettes can adversely affect brain activity causing deficits in learning and memory.
Depression affects the processing speed of the brain i.e. the ability to take in information quickly and efficiently is impaired. People exhibiting symptoms of depression face difficulty in concentrating which can prevent them from focusing on things.
Exercise helps in stimulating the brain and boost mental performance. It reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is advisable to indulge in activities like crosswords and puzzles which involve using one’s mind. Learning new things help keep the mind active.
Medications taken for sleep, diabetes, cholesterol, as well as anti-depressants and anti-allergens can increase the risk of memory loss. Anti-depressants have a sedative effect on the brain as well. Statin, a medicine used to lower cholesterol, may cause memory loss by depleting the levels of cholesterol in the brain which help in forming connections between nerve cells. Painkillers and anti-epileptic drugs dampen the flow of signals within the central nervous system.
Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to transfer information from short-term to long-term storage. Alcohol tends to affect the prospective memory (day-to-day memory) more often.
- Nutritional Deficiency
Fish and fish oil supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA which are known to improve memory especially in older people. Dietary supplements usually improve memory, concentration and focus.
Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect memory. Taking B-Complex Vitamins can improve mental well being.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil help to reduce the risk of a stroke. Consume food items which are high in healthy and unsaturated fats which will not only benefit our waistline but our mental health as well.