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Thread: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

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    Default I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Hi there. As you may have guessed, I'm a sock! Just for medical privacy purposes, though. No troublemaking here.

    Here's the background. I'm 26 years old. My memory's never been amazing, but used to be pretty normal, to my knowledge. Lately, however, it seems to have declined to an extent that other people are noticing. I will have a conversation with somebody and within the hour, I won't remember what the topic was. I'll have (apparently) asked a question, received an answer, and then I'll ask the same question even as little as a few minutes later. I'm in school now, and I keep finding out that assignment dates have been changed, and I have absolutely no memory of this happening - despite the fact that I attended the class in which they were changed. I have even had problems with someone saying something, to which I listen - and then a few sentences later in the conversation, I get lost because I have already forgotten that crucial tidbit.

    I don't feel like I have any problems with attention. Just memory. I feel like I'm getting stupider, and people are getting frustrated with me. It's getting kind of upsetting.

    Basically what I'm wondering is, ultimately, is this worth seeing a doctor for? What could it be? I feel like I'm already a semi-hypochondriac and I don't want to go through a ton of medical procedures just to find out nothing was wrong and I was just being paranoid. Which has happened to me several times in my life - so I worry that I'm overreacting sometimes.

    A little background, in case it's useful. I'll spoiler this in case it's not, so you don't have to read all my possibly relevant, or not, medical history.
    [spoiler:jc13l8gg]I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (isn't everybody?) but it seems pretty clear that I really do have such problems. I have plenty of periods of stability and have been pretty successful in school/work so far, and would like to continue! But there are definitely periods of problems (usually a few months at a time). I have had varying levels of psychosis during some mood episodes, of which there have been about 7 in ten years (4 depression; 2 mania; 1 unclear, mostly characterized by psychosis). I'm currently on a mood stabilizer (Lamictal) which I feel has been working quite well for those problems. I used to be on antipsychotics, and I used to be on mood stabilizers Tegretol and Topamax, which are notorious for side effects of, well, basically general stupidity Lamictal is not supposed to do that, and I've been on it about 7 months with no side effect problems.

    In the past, I have had two episodes of blacking out and falling down (non-alcohol related ones, I mean). I was evaluated for seizures (MRI, EEG, etc. etc.) and the tests suggested that they were not seizures. I wasn't really diagnosed with anything, but since I was already on anticonvulsive medication as a mood stabilizer, it was just left at that. It was found that I have clonus on my right side but not much was made of that, either, since the MRI/EEG were normal.

    I used to be alcoholic but am now sober (1 year 2 weeks!). Used to smoke and occasional marijuana as well, don't do those things anymore.

    I think that's everything that's neurologically relevant. Pretty physically healthy - somewhat overweight, frequent nausea for some reason, but that's about it. Most recent bloodwork was about a year ago, and it was all as normal as can be - so, as far as I know, no thyroid or diabetes issues.[/spoiler:jc13l8gg]

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    I don't really have an answer for you, but I'm going to pass this thread onto my friend who lurks on the board. She's been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and has gone through all sorts of medication fun. Might have some experiences to share with you.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

  3. #3
    Stegodon
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Frequent blackouts? Nausea? Memory loss? Yes, you need to see a doctor. IANAD or anything remotely like it, but I think you need to see a doctor. Better a paranoid hypochondriac than a rare case of Alzheimer's before 30, go see which one of the two you are.

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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Hmm, never thought the nausea would have much to do with it. Just a chronic problem I thought I'd mention offhand. I was evaluated for that about 6 years back, lots of testing but nothing was found. It's an off-and-on sort of thing.

    Thanks, Caerie, for passing along to a friend.

    Yeah, I think I will probably see a doctor. Just, not sure how urgent, and kind of wondering what it may be.

  5. #5
    Elephant
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Analysis by a competent practitioner is definitely indicated. Good luck, Sir.
    Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Thomas Edison

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    Elephant
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Definitely go see a doctor.
    There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. -- Ray Bradbury's "Coda"

  7. #7
    Elephant
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    You need to see your doctor. No doubt about it.
    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth - Marcus Aurelius

  8. #8
    Oliphaunt
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Another vote for 'See a doctor.'
    I'm not good at the advice. Can I offer you a sarcastic comment instead?

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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    All right. I'll make an appointment tomorrow.

    Can you really get Alzheimer's younger than 30?? That is scary. My grandma had Alzheimer's, but at a normal age for that. I hope it's something benign, like medication. Though, it seems unlikely, and I really don't want to switch medications as this has been the best I've been on. You do what you gotta do, though.

    I've been reading up a bit and, though it was kind of dismissed by the neurologist, clonus is not really a great sign in and of itself.

    I guess part of it is, I don't want to scare my family unnecessarily.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Obviously, you should see a doctor. It's just not possible to diagnose mental illness over the internet better than basically guessing. There are just so many things, serious and non-serious that could be causing this.
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  11. #11
    XJETGIRLX
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    When you say blacking out, what precisely do you mean? You mentioned falling down, but generally blacking out means losing periods of time, but still moving around and functioning normally - just not remembering any of it. Do you mean that you fainted?

    If you fainted (rather than blacked out) then I would recommend you go to your GP and see if they can refer you to a cardiologist. There are several issues that are associated with fainting that also have poor memory/inability to focus/brain fog as a symptom as well.

    There are lots of reasons, other than Alzheimers, that your memory could be suffering. Go get checked out to be sure, but don't necessarily start freaking out.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    You have to see your psychiatrist. Drugs used to treat mental illness commonly cause cognitive problems, particularly including problems with memory. It's quite possible that your memory troubles are related to your drug regimen, and they may well be fixable. You very likely don't have to suffer through this.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    One thing that I've noticed on my own meds (I'm on Trileptal for bipolar), is that my focus is terrible. I'll have to read things several times over, and I occasionally "tune out" in the middle of a conversation. I also have dizzy spells, nausea, and shortness of breath. Pretty much, I'm with everybody else that you should see a doctor and make sure you give him all the same information you gave us here. Putting everything together is what's going to really help you figure out what's wrong, because you really never know what parts are related.
    So, I'll whisper in the dark, hoping you'll hear me.

  14. #14
    For whom nothing is written. Oliveloaf's avatar
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    This exact thing happened to me at about the same age.

    I was working nights. My memory was going to pieces, and it was freaking me out. There were two things different about my life at the time,
    and correcting them brought back my memory...more correctly, my memory seemed to improve at about the time I addressed these issues.

    1. Insufficient sleep
    2. Extreme caffeine abuse.

    I was pounding Diet Pepsi at the time, and working goofy hours that never allowed for a solid 6-8 hours straight of sleep.

    Oh, I was also doing a lot of drinking. A lot.
    But I kept drinking even after I got around to sleeping better and laying off the stimulants.

    Twenty years later, my memory seems fine.

    I'm not suggesting you shouldn't seek help, but I bet you can identify changes in behavior and environment that coincide
    with your forgetfulness.
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Quote Originally posted by XJETGIRLX
    When you say blacking out, what precisely do you mean? You mentioned falling down, but generally blacking out means losing periods of time, but still moving around and functioning normally - just not remembering any of it. Do you mean that you fainted?
    Yes, I guess you're right. I'm sorry. Apparently before I fell, I was briefly talking and acting conscious (but wasn't). Something like 5 seconds, though, so not really a true blackout. That's odd that none of the doctors suspected cardiac issues at the time. I can bring that up with the doctor - thanks.

    Quote Originally posted by 0ut0fMyHead
    One thing that I've noticed on my own meds (I'm on Trileptal for bipolar), is that my focus is terrible. I'll have to read things several times over, and I occasionally "tune out" in the middle of a conversation. I also have dizzy spells, nausea, and shortness of breath.
    Trileptal is basically a form of carbamazepine, right? It's supposed to be better? I took carbamazepine and that kind of thing you describe did happen, especially when I first started (plus this weird side effect where all music notes were a half step lower, but that's another story...). When I switched to Lamictal, though, I didn't have any weird side effects at all, and things were completely nice and normal, for about 3-4 months before I started noticing memory issues creeping in.

    I called my insurance's nurse hotline yesterday to find out what route they thought I should take. They said that memory, concentration, etc. problems are not side effects of Lamictal and that I should see the neurologist. But, just to be safe, maybe I should call my psychiatrist first?

    Quote Originally posted by Oliveloaf
    1. Insufficient sleep
    2. Extreme caffeine abuse.
    I doubt those are contributing, I guess. I don't drink any more caffeine than usual (1-2 cups caffeinated tea per day, or so) and I regularly get my 6-8 (...or 9) hours of sleep at about the same time every night. And no drinking anymore. I can't really think of anything else except the basic stress of being back at school after a few years. Anything else I should take into consideration?

    Anyway, like I said, I called the hotline and they suggested to call benefits to recommend a neurologist who will take my insurance. I think I may just make an appointment at my school clinic for a quick second opinion as to whether a "straight to the neurologist" route is recommended, and then they can refer me if needed.

    Thanks, everyone. Let me know if there's anything else you can think of that I should take into consideration when I explain things to a doctor.

  16. #16
    Elephant
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Quote Originally posted by Excalibur
    You have to see your psychiatrist. Drugs used to treat mental illness commonly cause cognitive problems, particularly including problems with memory. It's quite possible that your memory troubles are related to your drug regimen, and they may well be fixable. You very likely don't have to suffer through this.
    This is exactly why I stick with "street drugs". (YMMV)

  17. #17
    XJETGIRLX
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    Default Re: I'm in my mid 20s. Why is my memory suddenly terrible?

    Quote Originally posted by Rock 'em SOCK 'em

    Quote Originally posted by Oliveloaf
    1. Insufficient sleep
    2. Extreme caffeine abuse.
    I doubt those are contributing, I guess. I don't drink any more caffeine than usual (1-2 cups caffeinated tea per day, or so) and I regularly get my 6-8 (...or 9) hours of sleep at about the same time every night. And no drinking anymore. I can't really think of anything else except the basic stress of being back at school after a few years. Anything else I should take into consideration?
    If your fainting is related to something neurological/cardiological, then even small amounts of caffeine could have a huge impact.

    I have problems with my autonomic nervous system that produce a lot of the symptoms you mentioned related to memory and passing out; basically my brain doesn't give the right signals to my heart and cardiovascular system. Heat, physical stress, emotional stress, dehydration, lack of salt, lack of sleep, and stimulants like caffeine or nicotine make it worse. I had to quit caffeine and make several other lifestyle changes last October, and I've felt a lot better since.

    It might be worth cutting out caffeine and getting plenty of sleep for awhile just to see if there's any change. It will take a couple weeks to get over caffeine withdrawal, but if you still don't see an improvement after that then at least you will know it's not a factor. Plus, your doctors are likely to be much more eager to help you if you show that you have taken steps on your own to rule out common environmental factors.

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    Default 20 yrs old and can't remember anything

    I am 20 years old and have a horrible memory everyday I can't remember what I did the day before, I went to dinner on Thursday and on Friday I was talking to my gf about that same dinner and I was under the impression that we had gone out two days before. In the past two months I have made my way to my fifth phone because I leave them somewhere and can't recall where I even may have been. Yesterday I visited my parents my mom said my dad left me. A check on the table I said ok then walk towards the front door on my way out my mom told me to grab the check, I don't have any attention problems and have never been on mess or have ever been diagnosed with any neuro problems but now I am very worried it is messing with my everyday life very badly and I have a lot to do I am only 20 and forgot to let my dogs in, forgot to even look up memory problems several times after reminding myself several times, it's so stressful and is making my life very challenging with myself personally, my relationship, and my family and friends. My question is, how serious is this? I don't drink often I don't do drugs, however I have fainted three times in two years and was taken to the hospital for the last one. How serious is this?

  19. #19
    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    Default

    This sounds pretty serious to me, I would see a doctor as soon as possible. I am not at all knowledgeable on memory issues but what you're describing sounds like a strong need to see a professional.

    In the meantime you can try a few tricks I use. When I have a lot to do over the next few days, I write a reminder note and keep in on me. I tend to scratch off what is done.

    I would recommend the first note be: call for a Doctor appointment and when you have the time and date, write that down.

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