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Curable forms of memory loss

August 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
One in four Americans are diagnosed with dementia at some point in their lifetime. We all worry about it, but could losing your mind be all in your head? Your forgetfulness could be completely treatable.Carolyn Conley and Irene White are at two different stages in their lives, but they have the same fear.

"I started experiencing memory lapses. It was a really odd feeling," said Conley.

But these women are not losing their minds. After years of suffering, Conley found out the opening at the base of her skull was not big enough, and put pressure on her brain stem. Surgery corrected it, but for millions of others, no surgery is needed for the solution.

"Many of us complain about middle aged pauses or senior moments," said Dr. Gary Small from the UCLA Center on Aging.

Dr. Small, a geriatric psychiatrist, says many women suffer from pseudo dementia and don't know it.

"You may be stressed out, you may be fatigued. It could be anxiety," said Dr. Small.

Internist Mildred McAffey says clinical depression is often confused with dementia.

"It can be mistaken for dementia. I had this one patient who thought she had dementia. As it turns out, once we started her on the anti-depressant, her memory significantly improved," said Dr. McAffey.

Anemia, thyroid disorders, malnutrition, alcoholism and vitamin D and B deficiencies can also cause memory loss.

"It turned out it was vitamin B12 deficiency," said White.

So if you feel like you're losing your mind, check with a nutritionist first. A simple change in your diet could get your memory back on track.

Signs that your memory loss may more serious include asking the same questions repeatedly, becoming lost in familiar places and being unable to follow directions.

Web Extra Information:

Memory Loss: Is pseudo dementiaTo Blame?

We hear of it often, but don't always know what exactly dementia is. Dementia, according to one definition, is a group of disorders that affects the brain. Individuals suffering from dementia may have trouble solving problems and remembering things.

Alzheimer's disease and strokes may cause dementia. But, there is also a disease called pseudo dementia. Pseudo dementia is typically caused by illness and is related to depression. Pseudo dementia is known as "false dementia." The depressive state results in cognitive impairment, which can lead to false beliefs about memory loss and dementia .

Five Signs You Could Have Dementia:

Dementia signs and symptoms come in many forms. But there are warning signs to look out for. The first sign is difficulty in finding words. Other signs include: difficulty performing familiar tasks, forgetting names and appointments, confusion and disorientation in unfamiliar surroundings, and personality changes.

While these are not the only signs you could have dementia, these are just a few things to be on the look out for. Although some of these symptoms overlap with dementia signs, it is important to consult your doctor if you think you or a loved one may be experiencing the early stages of dementia.


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