Memory Loss in Young Adults

Memory loss; a term that we are well aware of, since perhaps the earliest stages of life. We’ve heard of it from parents, read it in books, and seen it in countless movies. Among all these, movies have taken us closest to the subject but not technically. A person not remembering his past, after an accident, or after a shocking event, is cliché now. However, have you ever wondered what causes short-term memory loss in young adults? Or even a long-term one for that matter? No, right? Listed below are the causes, the symptoms, and the treatment for this condition. As mentioned before, the condition is also known as ‘amnesia’. However, before all those details, and unending information, let us read a little about types of amnesia that can occur in young adults. You can also use the ‘index’, to directly go to a topic of your choice.
Types of Memory Loss
Anterograde Amnesia
Anterograde amnesia is one of the most common types of amnesia in young adults. In this, the brain’s ability to store and retain information, or knowledge, reduces. Gradually, this leads to memory loss. Young adults who suffer from this type, have difficulty remembering the recent or immediate past. Usually, we get to see this type in cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Retrograde Amnesia
Retrograde amnesia is another type. It usually occurs after trauma to the brain, like a head injury or an accident. Something that has caused external harm to the brain. In this type of amnesia, the person will not remember most of his/her life, before the occurring of this amnesia. This is what we usually get to see in movies. Memories of life before the incident are washed away.
Transient Global Amnesia
Transient global amnesia is a form of memory loss that is seen very rarely. In this type, the ability, or rather capability of the brain to form new memories diminishes, and events of the recent past may seem blurred. This is a form of ‘temporary loss’ of all memory. It isn’t permanent though. Sometimes, you can remember what you had completely forgotten earlier.
List of Causes
Psychogenic Amnesia
Psychogenic amnesia is a form of amnesia that occurs due to psychological reasons, that mostly rise from impactful incidents in life. A life-threatening event, or a stressful life, can lead to this form of memory loss in people. Usually the reasons are criminal behavior, depression or schizophrenia. Most of the time, this kind of memory loss is short-term, but in some cases it can also be long-term.
Encephalitis and Meningitis
Another cause is a brain infection. Encephalitis is a common brain infection, in which we see a little inflammation of the brain. Another one is ‘meningitis’, in which we see inflammation of the brain, as well as the spinal cord covering. The worst part about these infections, is their capacity to do permanent damage. However, the duration of memory loss will depend on other factors too, such as the severity of the infection, and the damage it has already done.
External Injury
An external injury is when the brain suffers from some trauma, like in an accident. In this case, the brain gets injured internally and/or externally, and that too, many times! This is said to lead to memory loss at a young age. Mostly, in this case, the memory loss is short-term, and doesn’t stay for long. The patient usually does not remember how he met with an accident, but slowly it all does come back. This can also termed, or called ‘traumatic brain injury’.
Many prescription drugs such as barbiturates, digoxin, isoniazid, tricyclic antidepressants, bromide, methyldopa, diuretics and aminophylline, can lead to memory loss in young adults. Some recreational drugs that can lead to memory loss are cocaine, PSP and LSD. If a young adult is suffering from this condition due to any of these drugs, the chances of improvement are high. The situation might improve once he stops taking these drugs.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is actually a deficiency of Vitamin B1, and another cause for memory loss. Two of the major reasons that lead to this deficiency are; extreme malnourishment, and/or addiction to alcohol, i.e alcoholism. If amnesia is not treated in its earlier stages, it can also lead to ‘dementia’. People who suffer from this deficiency, can suffer memory loss episodes for a lifetime. Recovery can be difficult. This is one of the most dangerous causes of long-term loss.
List of Symptoms
The symptoms of memory loss in younger adults, are almost the same as memory loss symptoms in other age groups. The most basic symptom is the inability to ‘remember’; all the other symptoms being offshoots of this one particular problem. The symptoms also depend a lot on the intensity and severity of the illness. So, the short-term memory loss symptoms may differ a little from the long-term ones.
Problem with Directions
People who are suffering from amnesia always have a problem with directions. They forget how they reached a particular place, or how they are supposed to leave and reach another. The basic problem is to ‘store’ the information, and use it again. Memory loss can always make a person forget general directions like ‘left’ and ‘right’.
Loss of Words
Young adults who are suffering from memory loss, also forget right usage of words, and the appropriate words, one is supposed to use in a particular sentence. They might want to say something for a very long time, but just then, they will not remember a word they had in mind all along. They might not remember the lyrics of a song they have just heard, or the name of a particular place they just spoke about.
Forgetting Positions and Engagements
Memory loss in young adults may also result in forgetting positions. You might think you kept a certain thing somewhere, and just can’t find it there anymore. Things you use everyday, like your car keys, or the place where you keep the remote control. Another symptom is forgetting engagements, such as meetings decided a day or two earlier, or the time of these meetings, or the person you are supposed to meet even.
Mood Swings
Another symptom is existence of mood swings, and fluctuating behavioral patterns. A young adult who is suffering from memory loss may seem angry one minute, and may suddenly calm down the next minute. There may be episodes of depression, or sudden euphoria as well. Sometimes, a person may feel anxiety due to unknown reasons, and then suddenly feel alright in sometime again, due to unknown reasons.
Inability to Perform
Memory loss also leads to the inability to perform. This means that a person might find it difficult to perform a certain task, that he has performed regularly. He might suddenly start facing certain problems now. Sometimes, this happens when you have a fixed schedule, but can’t remember certain things in them, you usually follow everyday. For example, a person might suddenly find it difficult to cook, or to play a certain game.
Certain foods play a very important role in the treatment for memory loss. It has been proven in some studies, that foods rich in powerful antioxidants can help, even in severe cases. Plums, red grapes, most of the berries, brussels, onions and broccoli, are a few foods high in antioxidants. Foods rich in Vitamin B are also advised to help in the treatment of memory loss. Another helpful food type, is the list of foods that contain omega 3 essential fatty acids. These contain nutrients that help in the maintenance of the brain.
There are certain memory improvement exercises that can help in treating memory loss. These are usually advised by the doctors to help the brain retain more memory, and to improve the ability of remembering. The person may have to strictly stick to the routine he followed before the illness struck. Someone might be needed to keep a check on that. Apart from this, doctors may even ask the person to write down everything, such as names and numbers of people, to help the patient improve his capacity to store information.
The treatment for memory loss may also include medicines prescribed by a doctor; to help improve the present condition, and functioning of the brain. People suffering from memory loss at times suffer from hallucinations, and delusions which can be treated with medicines. Other medication may consist of medicines such as Donepezil (Aricept), Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg), Memantine (Akatinol), Selegeline (Eldepryl), Gingko Biloba, Nootropics, Alpha-tocopherol Galantamine (Reminyl), Tacrine (Cognex), Rivastigmine (Exelon), Neo Tropin, B-secretase inhibitors, Vitamin B, Clioquinol, and some cholesterol lowering agents.
Giving Up on Addictions
Giving up on addictions is also a part of the memory loss treatment. This treatment, has to be dealt with a lot of care. Addictions can cause certain unwanted problems in it. Smoking and alcoholism will not only reduce the effects of the treatment, they will also create problems in the proper functioning of the brain, which is of utmost importance while dealing with memory loss.
Memory loss in young adults can be treated with certain medicines and surgeries, but it is very difficult to ascertain the exact treatment, as it differs in every case. I hope this information on the types, the symptoms, the causes, and the treatment, cleared all the questions you had regarding this illness. Sometimes, you can’t avoid this happening to you, but sometimes, you can. If you see any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Take Care!