Memory Loss and Forgetfulness

lee676June 4, 2006

Is there anyone here with any experience dealing with difficulty remembering recently past events, and any suggested courses of action, causes, or effective treatments?

I have long suffered from very poor short-term memory. I'll set out in my car, only to forget 5 minutes later where I was intending to go, sometimes driving for 20 minutes in an irrelevant direction. I would visit friends over the weekend, and have little recollection of the weekend by the following Monday. Then I'd visit the same friend a few weeks later, suddenly remember what I did the last time I saw her, only to forget the time in between. I frequently have periods of up to 4 hours where I sort of blank out, suddenly realize several hours have passed with no rememberance of what I did during that time. I have for years attributed these memory lapses to purely psychological causes - I have a relatively faint but discernable DID (dissociative identity, a.k.a. multiple personality) disorder, along with PTSD and mild depression. But I was still shocked to see the results of a recent formal psychiatric evaluation that showed my memory disturbances were just about off the scale, even worse than average DID patients. My scores for everything else were much closer to the normal range, albeit still elevated for most categories. So I'm beginning to suspect there may be something else going on here, a physical condition. It probably doesn't help that I've used MDMA (ecstacy) in the past, which has been linked to killing brain cells.

Should I be seeing a neurologist, or some other type of doctor, about this? What are other causes of memory loss that would affect an otherwise reasonably healthy 39yo male? This is becoming almost unmanageable and a huge disruption to almost every aspect of my life and I'm at a loss as to what to do. My GP doesn't seem to be all that familiar with these conditions.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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My opinion, for what it's worth, it that you should definitely be under the care of a neurologist. And, I also think that because of the type of problems that you seem to be having, that there might be more than one causative factor at work. It would be important to find a neurologist that you feel comfortable with.

New medications are being developed everyday. If you see someone regularly, he/she will be in a better position to help you.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 12:14PM
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I'd suggest finding a psychiatrist who is experienced in dealing with dissociative disorders.

Many of the methods that are useful for adults with ADD might help you ... especially the list-making and journalling.

Make sure you are getting adequate sleep (8-10 hours a night). The easiest way to do that is to GET UP at the same time every day, and go to bed that night when you start to feel sleepy.

On the nutrition side, cut way back on sweets, junk food, caffeine, and alcohol. Increase your fresh fruit and veggie intake. Make sure you exercise moderately.

You might be helped by one the following supplements:

Damiana (it's an herb found in capsules at a health food store) take 6 a day until you run out and see if you notice more mental sharpness.

Acetyl-l-Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid, taken together - one 500mg capsule of the first and 100mg of the second, also can be bought from a health food store. Try it for a full month and see if it helps.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 2:23PM
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Thanks, I'll look into those supplements. Are these things you've heard or read about as having shown to work? I ask because there are so many unproven claims thrown around about herbs and supplements.

I could certainly benefit from your dietary recommendations... I do eat too many sweets and drink more than I should, and not enough fruits and veggies. I've never found caffeine to affect me much. I exercise frequently and could actually stand to gain a few pounds.

My sleep schedule is a mess. Hard as I try, I can't even come close to maintaining consistency. Sometimes I can't get out of bed all day. Sometimes I'm so wide awake at 2am it's pointless to try to sleep. Other times I collapse in the afternoon and need a nap. Yes, I've tried all of the classic recommendations, and tried forcing myself to go to bed and wake up the same time every day. It doesn't work. I can't get anything done during the day if I only had 2 hours of sleep the previous night, can't even drive safely. After years of avoidance, I finally resigned myself to relying on sleeping pills to help out. Now I'm hopelessly addicted to Ambien.

I've also wondered if I may have some sort of ADD type condition - certainly, I can't hold attention for very long. I've never used any ADD meds though I've wondered if they'd help. I have lists everywhere - mostly of things I can't seem to get around to doing. Even small things seem like a hurculean challenge sometimes. I have half-completed projects everywhere. Although I don't keep a formal journal, I do have a file on my computer where I record significant events and thoughts. It's grown very large over the last five years.

I'm currently seeing a counselor (not a psychiatrist, as in M.D.) whose expertise is in dissociation. I've seen two other therapists previously who also specialized in PTSD or dissociative disorders. They aren't in agreement as to their diagnosis, but at very least I have dissociative amnesia. Certainly, my own condition is much less severe than the multiple-personality cases that get turned into movies or TV characters, or even some real people I know. I don't go by 6 different names, refer to myself as "we" or "us", or have any delusions of actually being different people. Still, it always feels like there's some sort of disconnect between my brain and my heart, that whatever thought or idea I'm trying to get to is there yet inaccessable, until something out of my control causes me to shift out of one mindset and into another. It's like my mind is splintered into several fragments that are barely on speaking terms with each other, with just a very narrow artery connecting them. I'm trying to widen those arteries. It's a struggle.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 4:37PM
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Lee, I am so sorry for your struggle. Mental health is so hard to define and treat. I would definitely see a neurologist. There is something not connecting in your brain, and you have a great attitude toward this, knowing that you need to be treated. Too many people have denial when it comes to mental health.

As for the Ambien, I am like you, hopelessly addicted. But I would rather have 8 hours of solid drug-induced sleep than 2 hours of broken sleep that left me useless the next day. It is not a narcotic, and you have bigger issues to deal with than Ambien use right now.

Please keep updating on your condition, I hope that you find an answer and solution for your problems.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2006 at 9:52PM
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Thanks Michelle. I acutally did see a neurologist over a year ago who pointed me in the completely wrong direction, due in part to some serious ethical violations on his part (long story, but he was pre-fed erroneous inforation about my condition which skewed his diagnosis badly, something I didn't difinitively learn about until later). So I'll will need to find a different neuro doc.

I have boatloads of resources pertaining to dissociation if anyone here would like some info emailed to them - books, websites, where to find local therapists who treat dissociatives, support groups (of which I've spend years attending), charities, and more.

Fortunately, Ambien is relatively benign. Not so everything else I've used (see thread link below). I can't really stay in denial anymore as you put it - too many others have noticed that *something's* amiss, although their guesses are generally wide off the mark and/or self serving, often looking to project their own neuroses on me. Nonetheless I'm at once facing a debilitating mental condition, recurring layoffs and faltering financial prospects, disintegrating personal relationships, losing my previous home, and precarious health, none with any letup in sight. And also a drug habit I can't seem to fully kick, mostly MDMA and various opiates. Actually have been clean for a several months now, but a day doesn't go by where I don't think about hitting the pills to help numb the pain. I fear I could relapse at any moment. I don't even know where to begin, work on these one at a time? All at once?

This is so hard.

Appreciate any help....

- Lee

Here is a link that might be useful: Health Forum / Drugs & Alcohol

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 8:19AM
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I am beginning to have some of the memory loss symptoms that you have outlined. I, too, suffer from PTSD and probably ADHD also. I am 42 years old. I noticed that you have used "various opiates" in the past. One of them that I have been on since 2001 is Hydrocodone. I take about 10mg a day, and it helps calm me down. I am wondering if it may be the cause of my memory loss? Are you taking any kind of Hydrocodone or Oxycontin medications?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 5:56PM
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Wow.A simple solution is to try a more nutritious diet.Malnutrition can cause all types of problems mimicking other disorders.Susan Powter talks about acting totally nuts and phychotic before getting a balanced diet together.Try to discard any empty calories and substitute with nutrient rich foods.Read a few books on nutrition so you'll know how to read a food label.Concentrate on food in its natural state for the most benefits .
Drinking and doing drugs seem to affect memory.If you are still drinking,you need to stop.Sometimes the brain will heal itself over time,but not if you are still killing your brain cells.One thing I remember hearing years ago was that acid would deplete the B vitamins in the system. If you are not taking vitamin supplements you probobly should be.Liquid supplements are taken into the body more easily than pills,so look for a multivitamin in liquid form for best results.I believe a nutritionalist can take hair samples that will indicate exactly what minerals and vitamins your body lacks.That will be reassuring to someone who is skeptic about natural cures.The science on nutrition is at least out there.It may be possible to alleviate most of your symtoms through diet,although you will need to give it time.There is no such thing as an overnight cure.Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 9:38AM
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Short-term memory can be affected by acute stress, overload, poor digestion (malabsorption syndrome has a profound effect on memory), sluggish thyroid (this happened to me from eating too much kale and raw cabbage!), certain medications, and depression, among other things.

I agree with cupajoe 100% about a better diet. Also...

Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil from the health food store can improve brain function. So can ginkgo biloba. But my #1 recommendation to anyone who asks is to read up on lecithin granules. Not capsules, but granules. It takes a couple of weeks before the improvement is noticeable. Lecithin improves the connections between the neurotransmitters, if I remember correctly. (It's been a while since I read about it.) They've done some impressive research on lecithin granules and the elderly. It's cheap, too.

Best of luck,


    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 1:31PM
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Yes, I frequently take hydrocodone, which was prescribed for back pain but I find helps for my frequent chest pains too. I take it only as needed, 5 or 10mg at a time (the pills also each have 500mg of acetaminophen), maybe 2 or 3 days of each week. I too find they calm me down, as well as make me more confident, more empathetic, and generally help keep me focused and alert (the latter the opposite of what some others find). I was a huge opiate junkie in my late teens and 20s, and was concerned I could fall back into the same patterns when I began taking them more recently for medical purposes. I still have to fight that tendency - which is strong - but there's a built-in inducement to do so: hydrocodone, like other opiates/opioids, becomes less and less effective with repeated use, whether you're taking it as a pain reliever or just to get high. And with my chronic backaches, I *need* something I know will work when I take one. If I start (or should I say, resume) popping Oxycontins just for recreational purposes, my body will become acclimated to it and they won't work when I need them as a painkiller. And there is quite alot of cross-tolerance amongst opiates, so overuse of oxycodone will make hydrocodone less potent and vice versa. Also, since you should never take more than 1000mg of acetaminophen (a.k.a. Tylenol) at once, the pills I am prescribed don't allow for a big narcotic hit without ODing on Tylenol which is hard on your liver (serious opiate addicts sometimes extract the acetaminophen using cold water and coffee filters - but I never found that was worth the effort or all that reliable - easier to look for pure oxycodone, hydromorphone (Dilauded), or morphine tablets). Anyway, I am not aware of hydrocodone or oxycodone being linked to memory loss, and I didn't see that listed as a side effect on any medical websites I looked at.


Although my diet isn't perfect, I think it's easily good enough not to constitute "malnutrition". I am careful about eating at least some foods in their "natural state" - apples instead of apple juice, oat bran instead of bran muffins, anything instead of hot dogs. I don't drink alcohol all that often. I also take vitamin supplements, including the liquid variety. A good diet helps just about everything and helps ward off problems, but most of the conditions I have would seem to be rooted in other sources.


I've used ginkgo biloba, but it didn't seem to have any noticeable effect. From what I understand, the link between ginkgo and memory is often oversimplified; it's not like simply popping some ginkgo pills will make you less forgetful. Haven't tried lecithin granules; I'll look into them. As for coconut oil, it's also high in saturated fat so I wouldn't want to down too much of it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 1:20PM
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Coconut oil is the subject of a lot of online discussion. A lot of people insist that if you get the right kind (some say it has to come from the coconut milk, not the meat) it absolutely won't clog your arteries.

I was told originally that extra-virgin, cold pressed coconut oil was the way to go, so I started taking it in very small quantities. I loved the effect (clear head and improved energy), but I had indications that it was not all that good for my arteries. I have my father's fat-clearning genes, which result in easily-clogged arteries.

Yes, do check out the lecithin granules. No known side effects that I've ever heard of.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 3:37PM
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Lee and Mark, I certainly hope you both find the help you need. This is long, but I feel this topic is important and I hope it helps someone. For ADD/ADHD, you might want to try 'real' food. Some think that if they take vitamins or eat chicken instead of beef, they are eating healthier -- this is only partially true. Two years ago, I researched ADHD, and most opinions I found recommended medication (drugs), which we oppose. Thank God I found Ben Feingold, M.D.! Go to the library and check out his books on why kids misbehave (also applies to adults) and the cookbook. Also, check out Bottom line is to eliminate foods that include artificial food coloring, artificial food flavoring, and preservatives ('bad foods'). I believe by eliminating these unnatural things from our foods, we all would be better off. My grandson, diagnosed with ADHD, was having a horrible time in school and home. It was heartbreaking to watch the torment he was going through because of the ADHD. Although very bright, he was failing in school and failing with friendships. On finding Feingold, I started to provide my family with lists of foods and ingredients to eliminate from my grandson's diet, including stores where to find these purer foods (hence, 'real' food); I ordered the Feingold program; and rid my house of all artificial ingredients in foods and seasonings (for when they visit). I can tell you without hesitation, there is such a significant, positive change in my grandson, because of the changes we made to his and our diets! Although my daughter's household is not yet 100% on what we know as 'The Feingold Diet', just by eliminating some of the 'bad' foods from their diet, has produced positive results. When my grandson has too much of a 'bad food', e.g., if he goes to a birthday party, he has a negative reaction and goes into overdrive until the bad food has left his system. The hardest three things in changing how we eat are due to: (1) our taste buds are used to over-processed, salty and sugary foods, (2) finding stores to buy foods without the artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives, and (3) resistance in family members to eat new foods. As one becomes more knowledgeable about reading food labels, finding new stores, trying new recipes, etc., it gets easier to eat better and get healthier.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 10:34AM
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I just bought the lecithin granules. I'll give it a few weeks and see what happens. The dosage is 1 tablespoon per day (preferably with a meal). It has no taste to it.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 7:01AM
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First of all, give yourself credit for seeking out help. You have reconized there is a problem and you are trying to make positve changes. Alway's follow a MD's advice. My internist is a Traditional Chinese Medicine MD. I would try and find one in your town or a Naturopathic, Holistic MD. IMO I would get off of ALL medications as well as natural suppliments for a while except those that are absolutely necessary. Your body needs time to rid itself of all medications. I am sure this is not a easy step, but stay off of all drugs, recreational.
Try and let your body heal itself with proper nutrition and rest. Try Melatonin for sleep cycles. My mother had Alzheimers and would sleep all day and be up all night. The Psych doctors had her on Ambien and Paxil and neither helped. I took her off both and gave her melatonin and it worked immediately. 5-HTP is a great anti-depressant. But you cannot combine it with other meds.
Get off of sugar and processed foods. I'm sure this is difficult, but you seem to still have hope and a positive attitude. Find the right Doctor, and change your habits and you will improve.
Good Luck, we'll all be pulling for you,

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 10:54AM
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What I am about to tell you is going to sound a little unconventional, but because your experiences and symptoms are almost identical to mine, I would be very interested in talking to you directly. From what youve written here so far, I am almost certain your problems are much less associated with the serious mental illnesses you describe than you think. I too struggled mightily with irregular sleeping patterns, opiate dependency, ADD, back pain  the whole gamut. Every one of the problems youÂve described is related. I do believe you have a touch of an anxiety disorder, combined with a tremendous amount of repressed stress. The memory loss is almost certainly a byproduct of continued opiate use. Find yourself a doctor to prescribe "Subutex" or "Suboxone", and get off of that stuff as soon as you are able. It ainÂt easy, I know it  but these medications will elminate the physical withdrawal symptoms. The best way to rid yourself of anxiety (you will certainly sleep better when you do) is through education. All of the therapy in the world will get you nowhere unless you learn all about the physiology behind the disorder, why it happens, what is actually happening to your body, and the toughest one  why. I was able to overcome a severe panic disorder with these tools alone, and able to rid myself of back pain forever through the work of Dr. John Sarno. He has written several books on the subject, with the latest titled "The Divided Mind". IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE, READ THIS BOOK. You have nothing to lose but $12 on Amazon or It will change your life, and you will see yourself on every page. I too had a zillion half-finished projects  everything you described. It is all attributed to repressed stress. Once you learn to "think psychologically" and discover all of the reasons your mind is causing these problems, you will be able to quickly rid yourself of nearly all of your symptoms. I am not affiliated with this doctor in any way; I am just one of the thousands of patients that have benefited from his work. It is written in laymans terms, and you donÂt need a psychology degree to apply his theories.

Reducing sugar, nicotine (all stimulants), improving your diet and exercising regularly are of course all-important pieces to the puzzle. Your mind cannot be healthy without the rest of your body in balance. The interesting part you will discover, if you read his book, is that the mind plays tricks on your body  when there are particular experiences your subconscious mind does not want to deal with, it will use a "triggerÂ, and take a past injury or malady that can mask the new physical symptoms that develop. Why is it that we accept life-long back injuries, but expect a broken arm to heal up, good as new? The back-pain industry is HUGE  and has become almost fashionable. Your pain and psychological symptoms are very real; but they are rooted in the psychological. Investigate this  you will find the solution. Please feel free to write me privately if you would like to learn more.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 12:40AM
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Mild memory loss comes normally with aging. Keeping the brain active may help to preserve brain cells. Reading, singing, doing puzzles, conversing, exercising, and eating a balanced diet stimulate blood flow and activity in the brain.


Opiate Addiction

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 2:53AM
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I see these post were written years ago. I am curious to see how things are now. 10yrs ago, I suffered from a vehicle accident that left me w/ a fractured C1,C2, pelvis fracture and several injured disk. I was goggling memory loss w/ hydrocodone , considering this has been the only pain medicine my body doesn't have an allergic reaction to. I am a nursing student and fitness trainer. I discovered exercise helps w/ the pain.
However, I have noticed periods of memory loss and contributed it to my ADD and busy schedule. I figured my memory can only hold so much. Befor my car inncident, I don't recall memory problems, that was 10yrs ago and im now 35. I wrote down the herbal adivce and books. I am going to try elimination of hydrocodone .

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 9:30AM
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Interesting to see this again, I am the Michelle S from 5 years ago, I am still here regularly!

Tam, I too take Hydrocodone for a back injury that cannot be fixed, I find it to be a stimulant. When I take it my attitude is happier, I am more upbeat, and it definitely helps with the pain. I do not want to get off of it, I am a believer in "don't fix it if it ain't broke". I know there are long term effects, but this is my choice. I am also still on Ambien. I just woke up (I work nights and wake at about 2-3pm) and feel so well rested and calm because of a deep sleep from the Ambien.

I have found that I have had some memory loss, but you know what? We are getting older, it is a part of life, I believe, no matter what drugs or supplements you choose to take. I am always open to try a supplement, but I choose to grow old gracefully, if I forget what I was looking for 2 minutes ago it will come back to me at some point. I don't fret over it, I like to live without worry and have learned to accept the consequences of aging.

I would love to hear anyone else's experiences as well. Thanks for bringing this one back to the top, Tam!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 4:39PM
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They came out with a new report that keeping the brain active does not help at all. Personally I think memory loss in seniors is mostly caused by dead brain cells, nothing can restore them. Researching my own meds I found that some drugs, even blood pressure meds can cause it. I am surprised at how many people don't research the pills they are prescribed.

The drugs they give to patients with memory loss either AZ or dementia have not been proven to help, they are experimental.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 3:55PM
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