MEMORY DISORDERS

Introduction

Memory disorders are defined as suppressed cognition abilities leading to the deteriorated ability of reasoning and decision making. This will further create hindrance in communication skills, leaving the sufferer to forget the words an individual wanted to speak out. Many notable disorders immensely affect the brain’s progression and its formability.

Memory loss is a normal physiologic process that starts at the age of 45. The brains’ sharpness and power of reasoning are lost with time. It is worth knowing because researchers say that faster deterioration can lead to the development of dementia in the latter part of life.

Managing it with great tactics can help prevent the suffering of an individual. People with cardiovascular diseases and obesity have higher risks of developing dementia as there is a notable decrease in the cerebral blood flow monitored. A healthy and balanced lifestyle is known to improve the condition and prevent such disorders from happening.

The hippocampus plays a discrete role and collection and recalling of the memories. Neurological deficits are playing a role in giving rise to false memory. Certain neurological techniques are utilized to study memory disorders more in-depth.

Causes of Memory Disorders

There are certain reasons which are linked to produce mild and severe memory disorders. Each particular reason may separately account for a certain deteriorative disorder or many of the causes get together to produce a certain condition within an individual. Key causes are listed below:

  • Age
  • Genetic inheritance – Inheriting genes for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease
  • Trauma
  • Constriction of cerebral vessels and arteries
  • Use of excessive alcohols or narcotics or opioids
  • Untreated metabolic disorders like diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiencies like B12
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Brain tumors
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Use of excessive medicines like prompt use of NSAIDs.

Types of Memory Disorders

Memory disorders are hard to evaluate in clinical terms. Its evaluation and identification will turn out to be beneficial for both the patient and the doctor. Normal physiological memory functioning has to be correlated strictly with the disorder.

There is major anatomical structural involvement each type of memory disorder we will be discussing below. These disorders usually take place when there is the deviation in the purposeful functioning of the brain’s parts, lacking them behind in storage and retaining the memories.

The disorder may acquire dysfunction of the overall memory functioning process or hinder it just a singular place. The overall cycle needs a strict evaluation to find out the type of disorder prevailing. These disorders may be mild or severe and can even hit one in the progressive stage. Below is the major listing of memory disorders:

●      Dementia:

It is one of the most notable and prevailing memory disorders. The cognitive functions show a decremental curve and are particularly related to forgetfulness. These persons show incompetency in life tasks having difficulty in completing simple tasks. They too have communication constraints and disorientation.

The person too might lose concerns and notable personality changes are seen. Trauma, stroke, drug reactions, and infections can lead to dementia affecting people of all ages.

●      Vascular Dementia:

This dementia arises from vascular constriction leading to decreased blood flow to the cerebellar and cerebral areas. Strokes and head injuries can cause this type of dementia. Trouble planning and understanding things are seen. 

●      Dementia with Lewy bodies:

This type of dementia is particularly related to the development and deposition of abnormal protein types called Lewy bodies. These abnormal depositions lesson the memory space given rise to deteriorative brain functions.

●      Frontotemporal dementia:

This is the most common type of dementia affecting the frontal and temporal cortex of the brain. Usually, this type of dementia affects the nerve cells within the brain causing them to shrink. Though it occurs in ages between 45 and 60 but may occur in younger individuals too.

This is associated with impaired speech abilities known as aphasia. This may lead the person to lose temper easily and spring out inappropriate, untimely things.

●      Alzheimer’s disease:

Brain changes are noticeable features of this type of memory disorder. It is characterized by two important features. One is the formation of amyloid plaques and the other is the formation of neurofibrillary tangles.

These both account for brain signals deficits due to a lack of neurotransmitters in the brain. This gives rise to impairments and hinders the functioning of daily tasks. 

●      Mild Cognitive Impairment:

This is termed as mild because it ranks somewhere between normal and severe forms. Mild cognitive impairment can lead to difficulty in memory association and coordination with its counterparts.

These people are more prone to transform disease type into Alzheimer’s. Genetic predisposition plays a vital role in such cognitive impairments to arise.

●      Encephalopathy:

Brain inflammation can lead to major neurological changes altering the brain functions. Immense brain signals deficiency can give rise to seizures and fits. This is coupled with the state of delirium. Viruses are the major cause of encephalitis.

It is arrested with certain neurological conjugations like Parkinsonism, weakness, inability to stick to daily assessing functioning, tremors and vertigo is experienced. This can be coupled with the usual headache productions too.

Delirium and its association with Memory Disorders

Delirium is a sudden state of confusion that is characterized by fluctuations in mental functions. The person is unable to pay attention and give rise to disorientation. Delirium and dementia both are opposite in this term.

Delirium has to do much with attention while dementia is associated with memory dysfunction. These two things are particularly vast in their forms and show no such association. Though, it noted that both dementia and delirium can occur at the same time.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options for Memory Disorders

These treatment plans are not fixed. Certain neurological imaging and techniques which will be discussed later are used by the neurologists to identify the root cause behind it. It may be a singular disease or association of multiples. These all need to be catered and need a strict treatment plan to be followed varies from patient to patient. The diagnostic options and treatment options are discussed below:

●      Dementia:

Dementia is not curable. Its progression is the hardest to evaluate. Certain lifestyle changes and managing techniques can pull the patient to a more comfortable life span. Certain medications are prescribed by the doctors to prevent excessive neuronal firing.

These pharmacological agents come under the class of cholinesterase inhibitors. Popular Drugs of choice are rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine. This slows down the symptomatic presentation of the disease and mood and behavior too. Sedative and anxiolytic drugs are also given to cater to anxiety and sleep issues.

Mindful activities help improve blood flow to the brain treating vascular dementia at a greater front. Repetitive mindful activities are also goals. A track of routine is maintained by visiting a neurologist once a month. Proper night time sleep is asked to be maintained with quantitative social interactions.

●      Alzheimer’s disease:

There is a series of tests to rule out the actual evaluation of the disease to be known. The physician may first inquire about the overall medical history and genetic predisposition of the patient. This will help health providers to organize things well and to assess things on the greater front.

Memory status is checked by certain procedural memory tests. Definitive diagnosis is made through standard tests which include a blood test, urine test, MRI, and CT scan. PET is also the subsequent mode of evaluation. Treatment options are hard to provide. Medicines are given to slow down the progression of the disease. This involves catering delusions and hallucinations one may suffer with. Pharmacological agonists are provided.

Certain common medications include cholinesterase inhibitors, donepezil, rivastigmine, and memantine. Other supplements namely Ginkgo biloba are even used by patients suffering from this disease.

●      Encephalopathy:

Encephalopathy is not judged on a single criterion. Certain diagnostic measures are taken to evaluate this. The common diagnostic procedures include MRI, CT scan, and PET. General X-rays are also taken to understand the matter with great depth.

Blood tests are also done to see signs of inflammation. Inflammation is detected mainly by high levels of prostaglandins and leukotrienes presence in the blood. EEG is also done to record the electrical activity of the brain. Lumbar puncture is also recommendable in certain cases to evaluate if there is a certain viral or bacterial infection.

These disorders need prompt treatment and close monitoring. Hospitalization is recommended in almost all cases while anti-epileptic drugs are given to prevent seizures.

●      Frontotemporal Dementia:

These are also diagnosed by routine, standard tests the neurologists preferred above to conclude a definitive diagnosis. It includes brain size shrinkage evaluation to conclude such a happening condition. Reflexes and muscle strength are even checked.

The attention span also requires strategic analysis. Treating FTD is quite impossible in this world though symptomatic treatment is done to let patients live life in harmony.

●      Dementia with Lewy Bodies:

Definitive diagnosis is outlined by brain tests and metabolic tests too. Thyroid tests and vitamin tests are top on the list. EEG is even done to study sleep patients to know whether the patient is suffering from REM and NREM sleep patterns.

These too are non-curable disease formats. Their adversity is reduced by treating a patient with symptomatic medicines. This will provide a bit of relief in one’s life. Behavioral intervention and physical therapy are coupled with medical treatment for the longevity of life.

●      Mild Cognitive Impairment:

Evaluations are made based on cognitive dysfunctions one may encounter. This is followed by taking a brief medical history of the patient with the brain and metabolic tests.

Sleep patterns are too studied in this disease type. People with such impairments are majorly suffering from sleep apnea and anxiety. The main treatment in association with this is the provision of anxiolytics. Later vitamin and thyroid deficiencies are catered by providing appropriate supplements.

Symptoms indicating a need to see a Doctor

Memory problems are associated with the symptomatic depiction of losses going on. The changes tend to show up with time alarming you to see a general physician first and then to approach a neurologist. The symptomatic display of the situation can be presented with:

  • Confusion – Delirium
  • Communication strains
  • Vertigo
  • Decreased comprehensive abilities
  • Inability to understand small things
  • Paranoia
  • Repetitive Questioning
  • Trouble remembering vital things like a name or phone number
  • Lost into thoughts

Added research on the way

We discussed that memory disorders are thoroughly catered by symptomatic treatments. But as scientific studies and researches are advancing daily, there is a more innovative and straightforward approach to this. Drug-induced dementias are more likely to be reversed while progressive dementias are made to slow down in its process.

Alzheimer disease and dementia both can be progressed to slower deterioration rate via DBS. Deep brain stimulation is a device like a pacemaker. Just like a pacemaker is used to elicit the SA node, these devices elicit deep brain portions to create places for memory holdings and integrations. Synaptic transmissions are accommodated by sending electrical signals to specific brain areas.

The new medicinal approach has also come up with the latest advancements. There are certain protein cutting drugs on their way which are going to destroy plaque formation and neurofibrillary tangles that are formed. This will lead a path to the most advanced evaluative treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Ways to Prevent Memory Disorders

There are certain things we majorly miss out in life and then do we regret. To save you from such, let me provide you with a life plan which is strategic and elementary to follow to lead a healthy balanced life.

Taking care of your diet and nutrition could save you from hundreds of diseases that might occur to you. God Forbid! To manage this try taking 5 portions of fruits a day and manage a weekly balanced diet chart for you and yours. If you are already suffering from thyroid issues take T3 and T4 supplements after a sound recommendation by your doctor. And yes, do not forget to have an apple daily for breakfast. As it is said ‘An apple a day keeps a doctor away’.

Take good sleep. Your sleep pattern is what is most reviving for the memory processes. Do not play with your life! Stop taking opioids and narcotics which have high adverse effects on your mental health. Stop taking an excessive amount of alcohol as it is closely linked inducing memory issues. Try taking certain cognitive therapies to improve learning. Manage personal notebooks to remember important things and dates.

Being active is the major chunk which I want to draw your attention to. Exercise can improve blood flow to the viscera too. You will never be a deficit of the blood supply eventually. Take out 20-30 minutes thrice a week out of your daily schedules for the motive.

Make your social interactions more pronounced. Spend more time with your family and friends which will help you improve your mood. Be proactive and start taking care of yourself. This is the success behind living for ages.

Summary

Memory disorders refer to the disease conditions in which a person is unable to form new memories or recall the memories stored in the past. Some memory disorders are also associated with general cognitive decline.

Memory disorders can result from several factors including age, genetics, trauma, nutritional deficiencies, etc.

Some common memory disorders include dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and encephalopathy.

Dementia is associated with general cognitive decline and failure of the memory process. There are several types of dementia that can arise due to different reasons such as vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, etc.

Delirium is a state of confusion and decreased attention that can coexist with dementia in some memory disorders.

The diagnosis of memory disorders includes the clinical assessment of the mental state as well as the imaging studies of the brain. This will help in identifying the root cause of the memory disorders and to devise a strategy it can be treated.

A person should see a doctor if he experiences symptoms like delirium, vertigo, paranoia, and loss of thoughts, etc for a longer period.

Further research is going on to find some conclusive treatment or management of memory disorders.

One can prevent memory disorders by adopting some changes in lifestyle such as improving diet, having some good sleep, doing a proper workout, having healthy interactions with people around you, etc.

References

  1. “Dementia”MedlinePlusU.S. National Library of Medicine. 14 May 2015. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 6 August2018. Dementia Also called: Senility
  2. Burns A, Iliffe S (February 2009). “Dementia”. BMJ. 338: b75. doi:10.1136/bmj.b75PMID 19196746.
  3. “Dementia diagnosis and assessment” (PDF). pathways.nice.org.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  4. Hales, Robert E. (2008). The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Pub. p. 311. ISBN 978-1-58562-257-3Archived from the original on 2017-09-08.
  1. Burns A, Iliffe S (February 2009). “Alzheimer’s disease”. BMJ. 338: b158. doi:10.1136/bmj.b158PMID 19196745S2CID 8570146.
  2. Mendez MF (November 2012). “Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease: nonamnestic subtypes and type 2 AD”. Archives of Medical Research. 43 (8): 677–85. doi:10.1016/j.arcmed.2012.11.009PMC 3532551PMID 23178565.
  3. Ballard C, Gauthier S, Corbett A, Brayne C, Aarsland D, Jones E (March 2011). “Alzheimer’s disease”. Lancet. 377 (9770): 1019–31. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61349-9PMID 21371747.

Image sources

  1. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/memory-loss-erase-alzheimer-brain-4894438/
  2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/runran/2454613878
  3. https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=272515&picture=dementia