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Causes For Memory Loss and 5 Tips to 'Remember'

Just two weeks ago, you forgot your cell phone in a taxi, only to repeat the same thing again last week. The only difference is that this time it was with your wallet. You are not alone! A recent study by the Hokkaido University of Japan, conducted on 150 volunteers between the ages of 20 and 35, found that one in 10 young people are suffering from severe memory loss.

Another study on women under 30, estimates that a third of women cannot remember their own phone number, leave alone the birthdays of as few as three close relatives. Are we running out of memory space? Neurology specialist Dr Vinay Chauhan says that the tendency for forgetfulness at a younger age is a growing cause for alarm. "It is important to focus on the cause for memory loss in young people, because more often than not it is not an actual brain dysfunction like Alzheimer's, but an environmental or chemical imbalance in the patient's life. Once identified, these causes can usually be treated," he says.

Causes for the early onset of memory loss range from stress to depression, a condition more common in women, to thyroid imbalances and even deficiencies in Vitamins B-12 and B-6. B-12 and B-6 are essential in getting neurotransmitters in our brains to remember things. Neurologist and specialist in memory loss Dr Anu Aggarwal says, "Memory loss is especially high in Mumbai, where gadgets are replacing our memories and young people are multi-tasking at extraordinarily high levels. Our brains are simply not equipped for such an overload."

She stresses the importance of diagnosis and treatment to overrule the possibility of serious long-term condition, including Alzheimer's disease and Dementia, whose likelihood increases with age. Talking to next of kin or a close friend is vital to understanding the gravity of the problem since people tend to either over or underestimate their own forgetfulness. One surefire indication that you (or someone you know), is suffering from a real problem is when your forgetfulness starts to impact your life or aspects of it.

The silver lining is that is that provided the 'memory loss' is an offshoot of the stress of living and working in the city, it is treatable. Dr Chauhan cites the case study of a 45-year old woman, who was suffering from severe memory loss and behavioural changes. While all signs seemed to point towards the early onset of Alzheimer's, tests revealed the cause to be Hashimoto's Encephalopathy disorder, a very rare hypo-thyroid condition.

Post treatment, she returned to a complete state of normalcy. Adequate quality sleep is one of the best ways to combat potential memory loss. Sleep helps the body to consolidate memory, playing an extremely important role in brain function. So, the next time you find yourself struggling to remember things, the best advice might just be to, sleep on it!

5 Tips to 'remember'

1 Exercise. Regular (and preferably daily) exercise results in increased blood flow to the brain. It also puts you in a state of relaxation, which is important for the memory to function.

2 'Me' time counts. Setting aside recreational time for oneself every day is important, as it helps slow down the pace of an otherwise frenzied day.

3 Eat healthy. A healthy balanced diet, which includes a good dose of vitamin B-12 (found in animal products like meat, poultry, eggs and milk products) is good. Vegetarians, who are more prone to this deficiency, can opt for B-12 supplements.

4 Stick to a routine. A regular daily schedule combined with a good night's sleep (at a regulated time), helps regularise a body clock.

5 Avoid addictions in any form, as they increase the chances of memory dysfunction.

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