Memory Lapses
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Memory Lapses

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Symptoms of memory lapses

For many women going through menopause, memory lapses can be the most concerning symptom. They can lead women to believe their minds are receding into a fog of mental illness. There are many misunderstandings about memory lapses as they relate to menopause, which will be cleared up in this section. Continue reading to learn what memory lapses are, what causes them, and the treatment options available.

Definition

Webster's Dictionary defines memory as “the mental capacity or faculty of retaining or recalling facts, events, impressions, or previous experiences”. Memory lapses, then, are fleeting periods when a person loses the mental capacity or faculty of retaining or recalling information.

Two types of memory are affected in women who experience memory lapses: short-term memory and recent memory.

Women who suffer from memory lapses typically report that they have “brain freeze” when trying to remember where they left their reading glasses, for example. Recollections of names, dates, and addresses can also evade a woman experiencing memory lapses during menopause, especially when she just received that information.

Types of memory

Memory is often simplified into only two categories: short- and long-term memory. In fact, there are several types that comprise the extremely complex function of a person's memory. The different types of memory shown below will give a better idea of the different functions memory serves.

Short-term memory

The ability to remember information for brief moments, such as a telephone number for the time it takes to dial it.

Recent memory

The ability to recall day to day events, involved in learning new information.

Sensory memory

The ability to recognize smells, sounds, and sights.

Long-term memory

Also known as remote memory, concerns itself with the more distant past.

Declarative memory

The ability to remember the meaning of words, facts, and a generalized knowledge of the world.

Procedural memory

The ability to remember motor skills – knowing how to do things – such as how to walk, ride a bike, and eat.

Symptoms of memory lapses

“Fuzzy” thinking: one of the symptoms of memory lapses

The primary symptom of memory lapses is the inability to recall information at will; but, there are other secondary symptoms of memory lapses as well.

Trouble concentrating

Forgetting a recent event and remembering it later

“Fuzzy” thinking

Once a woman is able to recognize that she is having memory lapses, it can be extremely useful to learn about how and why they happen.

Click on the following link to learn more about memory lapses, or continue reading on to learn more about the various causes of this aggravating symptom.

Tests for Memory Loss

Lapses in memory, also known as brain fogs, are common in women approaching menopause, though the outward signs of this are unspecific and hard to define. This can make it difficult to diagnose memory lapses, but asking yourself certain questions to analyze your symptoms could help.

Taking a Memory Loss Test

Lapses in memory, known as “brain fogs”, have been found to occur in many women during perimenopause. It can be scary to notice memory loss occurring, but there are tests that can be taken to assess the severity of the issue, as well as ways of maximizing attention span and concentration levels.

Causes of Memory Lapses

Hormonal Causes

Several factors can be the reason behind memory lapses in women going through menopause. But like many other menopausal symptoms, memory lapses are caused largely by hormonal imbalance. Memory lapses can also be a compound of other menopausal symptoms that affect a woman's concentration level and mental retention. Certain risk factors or lifestyle choices may increase women's chances of experiencing memory lapses as well.

Memory lapses hormonal imbalance

Memory lapses are commonly experienced by women undergoing the period leading up to menopause. As a woman approaches menopause, certain hormonal levels in the body decrease. These diminishing levels of hormones, particularly estrogen, have myriad effects on a woman's body and mind.

In the case of memory lapses, estrogen plays a special key role. It has a large effect on the functions of the brain and influences language skills, mood, attention, and a number of other functions, including memory. Estrogen is directly linked to verbal word fluency (the ability to remember names and words). It's no wonder then that as a woman's estrogen levels begin to drop, her memory may suffer.

Risk factors

Although decreases in hormones such as estrogen are the most common cause of memory lapses for women going through menopause, there are other risk factors that could have an effect on the likelihood of experiencing this frustrating symptom.

Excessive amounts of alcohol

Some medications (sleeping pills, antidepressants, blood pressure and heart medications, pain killers, tranquilizers).

Vitamin deficiencies

Poor diet

Lack of sleep

Excessive workload

When to see a doctor

If a woman is experiencing severe memory lapses, where she finds it difficult to recall information she's known for years and routinely used, she should consult a doctor to be checked for the following illnesses associated with memory lapses:

Alzheimer's disease

Infections of the brain such as encephalitis or meningitis

Head trauma

Stroke

Multi-infarct dementia

Cancer

Attention deficit disorder (ADD)

Fortunately, at whatever level a woman is experiencing memory lapses, there are solutions.

Click on the following link to learn more about the causes of memory lapses during menopause, or continue reading below to learn more about the treatment options.

6 Causes of Memory Lapses

Memory lapses are something everyone experiences from time to time, and are usually nothing to worry about. But when memory lapses occur regularly, they may be a problem. Sometimes memory loss can symptomize serious conditions – both physical and emotional – in the body, some of which may come as a surprise.

What Causes Memory Lapses?

Memory lapses are frustrating, but most of the time they are a normal part of being human. However, when lapses occur frequently, begin to affect your life, or your loved ones express concern, it is worth considering the various other factors that could be causing forgetfulness.

Memory Lapses Treatment

Fortunately, most of the time memory lapses are not a condition that a woman must live with permanently; treatments are available. It is recommended to begin with the least invasive method and progress up to more drastic treatments if the symptom remains unaffected.

Lifestyle changes. That can be implemented into a woman's life, such as dietary adjustments or a different exercise program. A balanced diet including additions such as omega-3 acids can help a woman to concentrate.

In addition, a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables are important in order to obtain memory-boosting antioxidants and the vitamins B, C, D and E; all important for proper mental function. Mental exercises and games, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, have been shown to improve memory. Exercise and proper sleep also go a long way to helping with memory.

Alternative medicine: natural supplements can be a safe and effective treatment option

Alternative medicine. However, as the primary cause of memory lapses in menopausal women is the natural decline in estrogen that is typical of this age group, the most logical method of defeating this symptom is to address the fundamental hormonal imbalance. Natural supplements can be an easy, safe, and effective treatment option.

Surgical or pharmaceutical. There is a third, most drastic option if the recommended combination of lifestyle changes and natural remedies are not effective enough. Surgical or pharmaceutical options to treat memory lapses exist, though these carry a higher risk of side effects. There are a host of drugs that claim to cure memory problems. If memory lapses are at the level of severity that a woman is still considering this final option, it is wise to speak with a healthcare professional for guidance.

Click on the following link to learn more specifics about the treatments for memory lapses, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options don't seem to help, drugs and surgery.

6 Steps to Deal with Memory Lapses during Menopause

Memory lapses are a common occurrence in women approaching menopause. Lapses in memory are distressing, and it's easy to jump to drastic self-diagnoses upon noticing them. However, it's important to remember that memory lapses are a biological symptom and, like other menopause symptoms, can be managed and treated.

Can Reading Help Combat Memory Lapses?

Memory lapses are an unfortunate – yet common – occurrence during perimenopause that can cause frustration and worry. It's important to keep your mind stimulated to enhance your cognitive functions as you approach menopause. Reading every day is not only enjoyable; it offers a number of benefits to the brain to help combat memory lapses, too.

Sources:
  • Dr. Devi, Gayatri. “Memory Loss, Estrogen, Menopause & Alzheimer's Disease”. The New York Memory Services. www.nymemory.org.
  • Dr. Devi, Gayatri; Hahn, Katherine; Massimi Stephen; Zhivotovskaya, Emiliya. Prevalence of memory loss complaints and other symptoms associated with the menopause transition. Gender Medicine, 2005, vol. 2.
  • Myers, Catherine E. “Categories of Memory Systems”. Memory Loss & the Brain. www.memorylossonline.com.
  • “Memory loss and menopause”. News-Medical.Net. www.news-medical.net.
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