The Problem With Memory and Bipolar Disorder
My memory is bad. Really bad. No, actually, it’s terrible. For many of us, memory and bipolar disorder do not go together well. The fact that memory loss is associated with bipolar disorder is nothing new. A recent study partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests an “obscure region of the hippocampus called CA2 is important for social memory.” Apparently “Individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have lowered numbers of CA2 inhibitory neurons.” If you’d like to read the study further, you can find it on the NIMH website. It’s short, but dry, so it may be good reading before bedtime.
My entire life I’ve struggled with memory loss. My ex-wife was terrified at times that I would put our baby down and forget her. While it was something she half joked about, her concerns were valid. In addition to the memory loss being a symptom of bipolar disorder, my memory was never as bad as it has been since I’ve gone on a bipolar multi-drug cocktail. Many medications wreak havoc on our memories. My therapist has been concerned. On my next visit he plans to run me through a battery of memory tests. This will be the 3rd time I’ve taken them.
A Solution ?
There may be hope, but it will require some work – Eating right and exercise. A new study by Michigan State University researchers suggests aerobic fitness affects long-term memory. 75 college students were studied during a two-day period and found that those who were less fit had a harder time retaining information. Details of the study are posted on Michigan States online paper, MSU Today
“The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time,” said Kimberly Fenn, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology. “The findings speak to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles found in the United States and other Western cultures. A surprising number of the college students in the study were significantly out of shape and did much worse at retaining information than those who were extremely fit,”
I am going out on a limb here because the study does not say anything about memory and bipolar disorder. I can only share my experience. As many of you know, I allowed the typical medication weight increase to skyrocket me to over 300 pounds. I could not walk to the supermarket across the street without having to stop a minimum of 4 times to catch my breath. I joined Weight Watchers, started exercising and lost 90 pounds. The difference was amazing. Not only did I feel better physically, I felt better mentally. I was more clear headed, had better cognition, and yes, my memory improved. Unfortunately, I stopped working my program and gained nearly half of it back and I’m cloudy headed once again. It will be interesting to see how my upcoming memory test compares to the previous one.
Let’s Here From You
Leave your comments here if you struggle with your memory and bipolar. I’m also interested in hearing from those of you who do not have bipolar disorder. I’m especially interested in what steps you take to combat this problem.