Some people believe that memory problems and even cognitive abilities arise with psychiatric medication use. Especially prolonged use. I am wondering if anyone believes or has any knowledge of whether it could actually be from all the stress from the mental illnesses themselves. I have read that prolonged mental illness and medication use can cause brain damage. This is causing me great problems and a lot of embarrassment. Your experience and knowledge are very welcome here.
You know what? I am not sure it is the medication that causes it but rather the treatment of the mental condition actually makes one aware of the problem that in all likely even already existed. I was on those kind of medicines for the better part of 20 years. While the medicines didn't fix any of my problems in many cases they gave me the buffer I needed between my conditions and my conscious mind. Because of this, I could do the mental exercises necessary to strengthen my position. Today I have been able to utilize non medication avenues, albeit I know my limits and if I start to become excessively weird in my wife's eyes I will happily or gratefully go on them again. I suppose misdiagnoses and medicine abuse, knowingly or unknowingly might change the situation. I only took as much of the medications that I was proscribed necessary in order to feel a benefit and stopped when the side effects outweighed the benefit. My doctors usually allowed this or couldn't do anything about it. Truth be told for the first 18 years of that I was being medicated according to my symptoms and not my conditions which also would change things. When I lost my mind almost 4 years ago the medications changed again as my actual conditions surfaced but then again I went off my meds as soon as I cognitively could work out logistical ways of getting around my condition. Cognitively and memory wise I am still not perfect. I lose things all the time but I don't remember a time when that wasn't an issue. I forget names but never faces. Again that happens all the time and always has. I think more clearly now then I ever have with one exception. I have a greater instance of mental fatigue and cant play as many games of chess in a row as I used to. As for this last issue, between the mental break and the medicines it is really a toss up which caused what. I don't know anyone who has had problems such as I who doesn't have a degenerative mental condition in some respect or other. My situation has stabilized which I can be grateful for.
It would seem to be very likely that all aspects would lead to cognitive issues. It is thought that it is especially hard to learn a second language because of the (relatively minor in comparison) 'shame' at not being able to speak, the obvious position of the learner in relation to the teacher. This 'shame' triggers something that interferes with cognition making the student lose much ability to think. I observe this in the classroom all the time and put in humour in an attempt to overcome the shame issue, humour reduces the 'importance' of the event and some kind of flight or fight kicks in, and we get adrenalin and the student finds a way around the issues by laughter or a touch of anger or a mix of both usually. A by-product is that previously shy students love my classes and often attend my other classes that they are not enrolled in. The counter to this is that a few do not come again ever, but I reason that they would fail anyway without some new way of dealing with this issue.
I'll give a brief history and then my own experiences:
In 1999 I began taking anti-depressants. Within a few months my doctor had me on several medications, and I was at the maximum dose of each. I gained somewhere between 100-200 lbs in less than 4 months. (went from a 32 inch waist to somewhere around 42, 140 lbs to something over 230 - I didn't own a scale and started wearing elastic waist pants)
When I realized what had happened, I quit taking the meds and informed my doctor. I remained off medications for a few years, until my depression went from moderate/major to major/severe. (severe really isn't a category, I don't believe, but I see a big difference) I took the anti-depressants for 3 years, until I began feeling better.
My short term memory is terrible!! For a while, so was my long term memory - it's now much improved. (it began improving when I started remembering events from my childhood, which I'm now writing my life story from) Seriously, it's a good thing I have someone else in the house with me, sometimes, who has a terrific memory. He does get tired of me relying on him to remember, though. Now that my short term memory has improved some, its not so bad.
my memory was so bad, at one point, I went to the gas station and tried to get out of the car without putting it in park first! another time, I was at work, and all I can remember is staring at the printer and wondering why nothing was happening. Then I realized I hadn't clicked print yet!
As for cognitive impairment, I'm not sure what to say except, my brain doesn't function like it used to. Will it improve? I'm not sure. I'm a full-time student, after 26 years, and struggle with concentration and focus. (interestingly, only with the class I expected to do the best in - Reason in Communication, otherwise known as Critical Thinking! - but there are other factors as to why I struggle with it) I continue to struggle with vocabulary recall (now it's mostly while writing, and I can use the thesaurus!)
and...I don't really know how to explain it, but, like, antonyms, synonyms, Sesame Street games...basically all the things I used to be able to do (cognitively) with ease are now a struggle. If I had to think about it before, I still have to think. But, the things I could do naturally, I now have to think about, but don't know how. Does that make sense? I'm having to relearn natural ability and don't have a clue how to do it - almost like having to learn how to walk all over again.
I also struggle with such things as determination...it's like I just don't care if I accomplish what I want or not. It's also shaken my confidence - but school is helping to rebuild my confidence.
It was over 4 years ago when I quit taking meds. My life began improving much after I found HubPages, and began writing. I'm such a different person than I was when I first joined - I posted many a question here in the forums, (I've been very open about my issues. You might be able to find them if you search for my forum posts) and many wonderful hubbers responded with wonderful advice. It's really been a terrific experience, one I'm very grateful for being able to find.
Good luck to you, and take care.
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