Why Stress Causes Memory Loss

Stress can impair your memoryHave you ever returned home after a particularly stressful day only to realise that you have completely forgotten about a really important errand, event or task at work? Well, after recent investigation by researchers its seems at last there is a scientific explanation for this temporary absent-mindedness. Stress makes you forgetful!

Of course, anybody going on stage or taking an exam already knows this, but a team of researchers think they have discovered how this comes about. And this is a discovery that they say could point the way to better treatments for such illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Stressful situations in which the individual has no control were found to activate an enzyme in the brain called Protein Kinase C (PKC), which impairs the short-term memory and other functions in the prefrontal cortex, the executive-decision part of the brain, says Dr. Amy F.T. Arnsten of Yale Medical School.

The PKC enzyme is also active in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and Arnsten notes that a first psychotic episode can be precipitated by a stressful situation, such as going away to college or joining the military. By affecting that part of the brain, the researchers say, PKC could be a factor in the distractibility, impulsiveness and impaired judgment that occurs in those illnesses. Scientists think the effect evolved as a protective mechanism, Arnsten said.

“If you’re in dangerous conditions it helps to be distractible, to … react rapidly, instinctually. It’s like getting cut off on the highway. You don’t want to be a slow, thoughtful creature…. You want to react and hit brakes.” Arnsten concluded.

The truth is that stress is a fact of everyday life and we all need a certain amount to stimulate us and add excitement to our lives. Too much stress, however, can have a seriously damaging effect on our physical and emotional well being if it continues for too long. Aromatherapy is of course, one of the finest ways of treating stress sucessfully.

Aromatherapists help this type of short-term memory loss all the time when treating clients suffering from stress, typically with a soothing massage using a few relaxing essential oils such as Chamomile Roman, Clary Sage, Geranium, Lavender, Jasmine, Rose or Ylang Ylang. Other oils such as Basil, Melissa and Thyme are adrenal cortex stimulants that can help to strengthen focus and deal with the stress better.

And finally, if all else fails with your fading powers of recall there is always Rosemary, which has been said to improve the memory since time immemorial!

Article source Copyright © Associated Press 2004

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