Simple Tricks to Improve Memory

Memory is a very intriguing part of daily living. It is very necessary. However, to memorize something can turn out to be difficult. On the other hand, memory can also decline with aging. This is known as Dementia. Nevertheless, there are simple tricks to improve memory. Using these memory-enhancing techniques can help improve your ability to learn new information and retain the information over time.

1. Repeat

One of the golden rules of learning and memory is a repeat, repeat, repeat. The brain also responds to novelty, so repeating something in a different way or at a different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build stronger memories. Examples of using repetition include:

1. Taking notes
2. Repeating a name after you hear it for the first time
3. Repeating or paraphrasing what someone says to you


2. Organize

A day planner or smart phone calendar can help you keep track of appointments and activities and can also serve as a journal in which you write anything that you would like to remember. Writing down and organizing information reinforces learning.

Try jotting down conversations, thoughts, experiences.
Review current and previous day’s entries at breakfast and dinner.
If you use a planner and not a smartphone, keep it in the same spot at home and take it with you whenever you leave.


3. Visualize

Learning faces and names is a particularly hard task for most people. In addition to repeating a person’s name, you can also associate the name with an image. Visualization strengthens the association you are making between the face and the name. For example:

Link the name sandy with the image of a beach, and imagine sandy on the beach.


4. Cue

When you are having difficulty recalling a particular word or fact, you can cue yourself by giving related details or ‘talking around’ the word, name, or fact. Other practical ways to cue include:

Using alarms or a kitchen timer to remind you of tasks or appointments.
Placing an object associated with the task you must do in a prominent place at home. For example, if you want to order tickets to a play, leave a newspaper ad for the play near your telephone or computer.


5. Group

When you’re trying to remember a long list of items, it can help to group the items in sets of three to five, just as you would remember a phone number. This strategy capitalizes on organization and building associations and helps to extend the capacity of our short-term memory by chunking information together instead of trying to remember each piece of information independently. For example:

If you have a list of 15 things on your grocery list, you can group the items by category, such as dairy, produce, canned goods, and frozen foods.

These are some simple tricks to improve memory.

Dementia can knock on the doorstep of even the middle aged.

Consult an expert if you have persistent difficulty with memory, or recall.

Memory Loss with Age

Memory Loss Age Aging

With age, most body organs begin to deteriorate in their function. Therefore, memory loss with age is not uncommon. Nonetheless, this happens to the brain too. Thereby, it reduces the overall speed of functioning of most organs. While slowing of bodily movement is visible, the internal organs functioning also slows down. However, this is not that obvious.

Memory loss or dementia is one of the main manifestations of this degeneration of the brain.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The associated symptoms includes reduced reasoning abilities and cognitive defects. Although, it is seen only in the elderly, not all elderly people will have Alzheimer’s. Consequently, the overall quality of life of the affected person is reduced. Thus, there is difficulty with remembering things that were recently learned. It is a progressive disease and as it gets more severe, a full-time caretaker may be required.

Causes: 

In fact, the brain cells are affected by protein masses known as plaques and tangles. Thus, these hamper the way communication between the brain cells happens. Consequently, these also affect nutrition from reaching all parts of the brain. However, this leads to shrinking of the brain, eventually leading to memory loss and other problems. In addition, there is also a strong genetic linkage, as most people with Alzheimer’s have the lipoprotein A gene.

Symptoms: 

Though memory loss with age is the most common symptom, there are other symptoms:

  1. Being confused about places, people, and times
  2. Inability to find the right words during conversations
  3. Regular objects are misplaced
  4. Becoming irritable, (in someone who was not so previously)
  5. Mood swings
  6. Personality changes
  7. Inability to organize thoughts
  8. Not able to make the right decisions
  9. Repetitive talks and actions
  10. Forgetfulness (not something the person always does)
  11. Difficulty with numbers (again, not something calculations
  12. Difficulty managing everyday tasks and minor problems
  13. Suspicion of others (like immediate family members and friends)
Risk factors: 

While age is definitely a risk factor, the fact that not all aged people develop Alzheimer’s is to be borne in mind. Nevertheless, other risk factors include the history of stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and poor lifestyle choices.

Diagnosis: 

Whereas, there is no definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, symptoms can indicate disease. In addition, brain scans and neuropsychological function testing are useful ways to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment: 

Hence, treatment is aimed at two things reducing the rate of disease progression and treat (or reverse) symptoms if possible.

  1. Medical Treatments

Cholinesterase inhibitors improve cellular communication in the brain and also manage depression and agitation. Donepezil and Memantine is used to slow the pace of disease progression.  Consult your psychiatrist to learn more about these remedies.

2. Therapeutic Measures

In people with the disease, small changes are useful to help them with the symptoms. These include keeping essential things like keys and wallet in the same place, keep a daily diary to help them remember things, keep pictures of friends and family within visible distance.

Consult an expert to find out what is your best fit.

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Exam Anxiety and Phobia

Exam Anxiety Phobia

The exam season has arrived. And so has Exam Anxiety and Phobia.

Students can be seen immersed in their books and notes.

Excitement is in the air and so is anxiety.

While the former is a good thing to see, the latter raises concerns in the minds of parents and teachers. However, the fact is that anxiety before exams is a normal thing.

The pressure to perform will make students experience nervousness. Indeed, this is alright, but only if it is up to a limit. If it reaches an unhealthy level, it needs to be managed.

If a student experiences the following symptoms before exams, then the anxiety is unhealthy. and it is time for a session with a psychiatrist.
  1. Excessive sweating
  2. Fast heartbeat
  3. Nausea
  4. Headache
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Difficulty in breathing
  7. Lightheadedness
  8. Dizziness
  9. Dry mouth
  10. Gastrointestinal discomfort

These symptoms are an indication of the student being in the grip of panic and fear.

Nevertheless, it can be managed and controlled with the following tips.
  1. Make a study plan for preparation: In some cases, students get anxious because they are not ready with the preparation. However, just days before the exam, they feel at a loss. They become anxious as to how they will answer the questions in the exam. To avoid this, students should make a plan for preparation. Indeed, devoting adequate time to each topic so that the entire syllabus is covered and their preparation is complete.
  2. Meditate and try breathing techniques: Meditation is a great relaxation technique that soothes the mind and body. Also, taking deep breaths (inhaling and exhaling). Example for 15 to 20 minutes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of anxiety. In addition, meditation gives you confidence, removes negative thoughts and also improves your concentration and memory.
  3. Exercise regularly: Getting involved in physical activity before an exam seems like a waste of time to many. However, it is necessary to avoid tension and stay healthy. So, if sports cannot be indulged into, one should go for exercises such as stretching and aerobics. Indeed, they relax the tensed muscles and keep fatigue at bay.
  4. Eat green vegetables and light food: Eating healthy is also important during exam preparation. If one skips meals or takes recourse to fast foods, it makes anxiety worse. In fact, junk food makes one drowsy. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are light and easy to digest. They also provide complete nutrition and ensure the sustained release of energy during the study sessions.
  5. Sleep well: Many students compromise on sleep. They think that it would help in studies. However, lack of sleep leads to poor focus and concentration which further affects the studies. It also makes one irritable and drowsy. So, one should make sure that one is getting 6 hours of sleep every day.

Exam anxiety and phobia, is not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, a small amount of anxiety is a good thing. Indeed, it acts as it motivates one to perform better. It leads to nervous energy which keeps one alert. However, the moment it gets out of hand, it is a cause for concern. So, one must seek help if one is experiencing the anxiety symptoms and follow the above-mentioned tips. It will surely help a student. Call your counselor or child psychiatrist to learn more.

Exams and Concentration Difficulties

Exams and Concentration difficulties are all too common. ADHD, CDD, short-term memory loss, forgetfulness, insomnia and so many more terminologies we would have come across very often.

They all seem to have evolved from a common origin and that is concentration issues. Have you pondered on these questions!! Why can’t it be easy to concentrate? Why can’t it be easy to remember everything? If yes, then read on to know more.

Concentrate! Focus! Pay attention! These are not just words but one huge and complicated process in itself. Many children and as well as adults often develop this issue wherein they find extremely difficult to concentrate.

Science behind exams and concentration difficulties: 

When an individual performs a single task; for example reading a book, the image of what he is seeing hits the retina. From the retina, the nerve fibres carry the image to the brain which stimulates the brain cells to fire an action potential. The signal from here moves to the thalamus and proceeds to the visual cortex. This signal activates locus coeruleus which is a brain stimulant. It targets the particular area of the brain becoming the deciding factor as to how one responds to a stimulus, which in this case is an image. When there is deregulation of the locus coeruleus, it is then that a person develops disorders like

ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia and others.

Factors influencing concentration:

Concentration is a skill that requires you to prioritize your senses while doing any work. It is an ability to block out distractions.
  • Dedication to the task
  • Interest in the task
  • One’s ability to complete the task
  • Physical and emotional state
  • Conducive environment with few distractions.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and concentration deficit disorder (CDD)


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and concentration deficit disorder (CDD) are the two predominant concentration issues. The first one is more common among the children while the latter is observed in mostly the adults. Any individual with ADHD or CDD can show abnormalities in their behavior and social life.

ADHD individuals tend to be forgetful and face problems sticking to one task and may even display excessive fidgeting. CDD individuals tend to be lethargic, move slowly and have trouble in staying alert. Adults may become socially withdrawn and exhibit slow information processing.

Solutions for concentration issues:

Concentration issues require a lot of time to be overcome. You can try to figure out what causes the distractions and avoid them as much as possible by refocusing your mind only on what you are doing. You can give yourself timers which comprise of “distraction time” and “focus time”. This strategy helps if one’s mind is actively processing other things.

You may also create subtasks by listing the things you need to do and then ruling out one by one once you accomplish them.

Always breathe better and try for long inhalation and exhalation. This helps to bring down your anxiety levels which hinder the concentration.

Though the above-mentioned strategies are just to help you improve your concentration they are not the ultimate cure for any of the issues.

Every individual is unique and sometimes accepting oneself can solve many complications as it reduces the need for unnecessary thinking. Always bear positive thoughts in your mind as it will act as a driving source.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Overview

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

  • Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized; and these problems are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.
  • Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly, including in situations in which it is not appropriate; or excessively fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with constant activity.
  • Impulsivity means a person makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have high potential for harm; or a desire for immediate rewards or inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences.
Signs and Symptoms

Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are the key behaviours of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Some people with ADHD only have problems with one of the behaviours, while others have both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most children have the combined type of ADHD.
In preschool, the most common Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptom is hyperactivity.
It is normal to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviours:

  • are more severe
  • occur more often
  • interfere with or reduce the quality of how they function socially, at school, or in a job
Inattention


People with symptoms of inattention may often:

  1. Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
  2. Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
  3. Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  4. Not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily side-tracked
  5. Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and failing to meet deadlines
  6. Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms or reviewing lengthy papers
  7. Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
  8. Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
  9. Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
Hyperactivity-Impulsivity


People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may often:

  1. Fidget and squirm in their seats
  2. Leave their seats in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or in the office
  3. Run or dash around or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
  4. Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
  5. Be constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor”
  6. Talk nonstop
  7. Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in conversation
  8. Have trouble waiting his or her turn
  9. Interrupt or intrude on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities
Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:

This requires a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed clinician, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or child psychiatrist with expertise in ADHD. For a person to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to fall behind normal development for his or her age. The doctor will also ensure that any ADHD symptoms are not due to another medical or psychiatric condition. Most children with ADHD receive a diagnosis during the elementary school years. For an adolescent or adult to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms need to have been present prior to age 12.

Difficulties:

ADHD symptoms can appear as early as between the ages of 3 and 6 and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems or missed entirely in quiet, well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.

ADHD symptoms can change over time as the person ages. In young children with ADHD, hyperactivity impulsivity is the most predominant symptom. As a child reaches elementary school, the symptom of inattention may become more prominent and cause the child to struggle academically. In adolescence, hyperactivity seems to lessen and may show more often as feelings of restlessness or fidgeting, but inattention and impulsivity may remain. Many adolescents with ADHD also struggle with relationships and antisocial behaviours. Inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity tend to persist into adulthood.

Risk Factors

Scientists are not sure what causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Like many other illnesses, a number of factors can contribute to ADHD, such as:

  • Genes
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or drug use during pregnancy
  • Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead, at a young age
  • Low birth weight
  • Brain injuries

ADHD is more common in males than females, and females with ADHD are more likely to have problems primarily with inattention. Other conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression, and substance abuse, are common in people with ADHD.

Treatment and Therapies

While there is no cure for ADHD, currently available treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatments include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments.

Medication

For many people, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medication also may improve physical coordination. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding the right one that works for a particular person. Anyone taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by their prescribing doctor.

Stimulants

The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD is called a “stimulant.” Although it may seem unusual to treat ADHD with a medication that is considered a stimulant, it works because it increases the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which play essential roles in thinking and attention.

Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe. However, there are risks and side effects, especially when misused or taken in excess of the prescribed dose. For example, stimulants can raise blood pressure and heart rate and increase anxiety. Therefore, a person with other health problems, including high blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease, or an anxiety disorder should tell their doctor before taking a stimulant.

Talk with a doctor if you see any of these side effects while taking stimulants:decreased appetitesleep problemstics (sudden, repetitive movements or sounds);personality changesincreased anxiety and irritabilitystomach-achesheadaches

Non-stimulants.

A few other ADHD medications are non-stimulants. These medications take longer to start working than stimulants, but can also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD.
Doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant:

  • when a person has bothersome side effects from stimulants;
  • when a stimulant was not effective;
  • or in combination with a stimulant to increase effectiveness.
  • Although not approved specifically for the treatment of ADHD, some antidepressants are sometimes used alone or in combination with a stimulant to treat ADHD.
  • Antidepressants may help all of the symptoms of ADHD and can be prescribed if a patient has bothersome side effects from stimulants.
  • Antidepressants can be helpful in combination with stimulants if a patient also has another condition, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or another mood disorder.


Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication, dose, or medication combination

Psychotherapy

Adding psychotherapy to treat ADHD can help patients and their families to better cope with everyday problems.

Behavioural therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help a person change his or her behaviour. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events.

Behavioural therapy also teaches a person how to monitor his or her own behaviour give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting

Parents, teachers, and family members also can give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviours and help establish clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines to help a person control his or her behaviour.

Therapists may also teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.

Cognitive behavioural therapy can also teach a person mindfulness technique, or meditation. So, a person learns how to be aware and accepting of one’s own thoughts and feelings to improve focus and concentration. The therapist also encourages the person with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.

Family and marital therapy can help family members and spouses find better ways to handle disruptive behaviours, to encourage behaviour changes, and improve interactions with the patient.

Education and Training

Firstly, children and adults with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, families, and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed. So, for school-age children, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family before a child is diagnosed. However, parents and children may need special help to overcome negative feelings. Thus, mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it affects a family. In addition, they also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.

Secondly, parenting skills training (behavioural parent management training) teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviours in their children. Thus, it helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behaviour. So, parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviours they want to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviours that they want to discourage. Finally, they may also learn to structure situations in ways that support desired behaviour.

In addition, stress management techniques can benefit parents of children with ADHD by increasing their ability to deal with frustration so that they can respond calmly to their child’s behaviour.

Support groups can help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns.Groups often meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.

Tips to Help Kids and Adults with ADHD Stay Organized

For Kids:

Parents and teachers can help kids with ADHD stay organized and follow directions with tools such as:

  1. Firstly, keeping a routine and a schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime.
  2. In addition, include times for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Also, keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen.
  3. Then, write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.
  4. Organizing everyday items. As such, have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.
  5. Accordingly, using homework and notebook organizers. Therefore, use organizers for school material and supplies. So, emphasize to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.
  6. Being clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.
  7. In addition, giving praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behaviour, and praise it.
For Adults:

Indeed, a professional counsellor or therapist can help an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder learn how to organize his or her life withtools such as:

  • Keeping routines
  • Making lists for different tasks and activities
  • Using a calendar for scheduling events
  • Using reminder notes
  • Assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork
  • Breaking down large tasks into more manageable, smaller steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.

In either case it is best to consult your psychiatrist.