Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963

Posts Tagged ‘mental fog’

Menopause Mind Proof: Not Losing Memory, But Brain Works Harder

12.8.11

Although we’ve been convinced that the Menopause Mind is real for a while now, hence this blog, finding empirical support for the connection between menopause and memory declines has been as easy as finding those car keys you left in the fridge.

 

Well, it seems like we’re both right and wrong. The Los Angeles Times just ran an piece on the findings of a recent study designed to examine whether or not post-menopausal women complaining of memory problems performed significantly worse on memory tests than women who did not share these complaints.  Researchers at the University of Vermont and Vanderbilt used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain activity of 22 women while they worked on various memory tasks. It turns out that the performance of the 12 women who complained of memory problems on these tests was no different from that of the 10 women who claimed that their memory was fine.

But, the researcher’s also found that the brains of the complainers were much more active than the non-complainers. Specifically, the action was increased in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in intellectual functioning and working memory, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which is involved in a variety of autonomic  functions (think blood pressure,  heart rate) and cognitive functioning including decision making, learning and emotion.

 

So, what does this mean for you? Even though you feel like your memory is shot  (the subjective experience of menopause mind), it may not really be that bad (your objective memory ability), but your brain is probably working overtime to compensate for memory slips.  To us, this translates to the following:  if you feel like you have memory problems, they probably exist, but your brain kicks into high gear to make up for them. Keep in mind that this study was done with 22 women, all of whom were post-menopausal. They did not compare post-menopausal women with pre-menopausal women  This does not yet support the theory that physiological changes during menopause cause memory deficits. But it seems we’re one step closer to grasping the workings of the mind’s mysterious metamorphosis during and after menopause than we had been–although not entirely there.

 

The LA Times piece also includes a discussion of the findings from another recent study that examined hormone changes and brain matter. To put it very simply, they examined the brains of women before and after a brief round of hormone therapy (increased estrogen). They found an increase in the density of grey matter after hormone therapy. This suggests that hormones may influence brain’s functioning by playing a role in how much grey matter–the more grey matter, the better your cognitive functioning. But it’s still unclear what exactly is going on.  The University of Vermont and Vanderbilt researchers plan to test hormone therapy as a way to improve memory among the complainers.  Or, maybe they’ll just get them to stop complaining. We’ll keep you posted.

Memory Tip #2 Keep a Log of the Day

11.25.11

If you’re mind is gone, than you’ll need to find a substitute…and we’ve got one just for you!


Step 1: Get yourself a spiral bound notebook. Try to find one that fits in your bag or purse. (See below for suggestions)


Step 2: Open the first page of the notebook and write down today’s date.


Step 3: Log everything that happens. Note every phone call, every meeting, every conversation, every thought. Don’t answer the phone without a pen and your notebook in hand. Don’t grab for a sticky or a random piece of paper, you’ll just end up losing these. Write everything in your notebook even if it’s just a scribble.


Step 4: At the end of the day review your notes:

a) Put events on your calendar with address and directions

b) Add contacts to your iphone

c) Turn to a fresh page, put the next day’s date at the top and create a “To Do”  list

 

Sample Log of the Day:

 

Finding the Right Notebook:

You’ll be using this notebook everyday so it helps to choose one that will withstand some wear & tear and one that you enjoy using, be it because of the paper quality, utility features (e.g. pockets), or simply because it’s pretty. Here are some suggestions:


 

Project Planner: This is a notebook with your typical lined pages, but with added sections for lists.

Cambridge Project Planner Notebook, $9.99, Staples.

 

 

Pretty Notebooks: If you like looking at something, chances are you’ll use it more than if you don’t. There are so many pretty notebooks available these days, there’s no need to settle for those boring notebooks from elementary school are a thing of the past.


Jonathan Adler Notebooks with Pockets, $9.99, Barnes & Noble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vera Bradley Notebooks with Pockets, $10-16.

 

 

 

 

For a fun twist on an old classic, these notebooks are made from vintage books, including novels, text books, and children’s books. Ex Libris Anonymous, $14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notebooks with Pen Holders: Don’t waste time searching through your black hole of a bag for a pen. Get a notebook with a pen already attached. Or you can buy pockets and pen holders for the notebooks you already own. Page Pockets & Pen Loop, $3.99-4.99, The Container Store.

 

 


Feeling Alone in the Menopausal Abyss? Throw a Party!

11.13.11

Going through menopause not only can make you feel like you’re losing your marbles, it can also be pretty isolating. Memory lapses, irritability, fatigue, and a host of other physical symptoms can leave you frustrated, burnt out, and a acting little demented…which can send your friends and family hightailing it to the hills!

 

Instead of the typical social withdrawal, why not throw a party?


Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, has been bringing women together to teach them about growing older with menopause-themed parties. Or, as we call them here, menoParties!  It’s a time to vent, share your menoPaused moments, get informed, feel supported,  and boost each other up, all while having a merry time.

 

Not unlike a support group, these shindigs  can help to “normalize” your menopause experience. This is psychology speak for: you’re not the only one going through this and you’re not a freak of nature…you’re simply menopausal.  And you can share how it’s anything but simple with women who get it.

 

Want to throw a menoParty of your own? Invite your gal pals over, have some tasty eats and sips, and read through Menopause Mind together for  titillating discussion topics! (How’s that for a plug?)

When does Menopause start? How will I know?

5.29.10

It really doesn’t help that menopause can only be recognized by hindsight. By the time that you can finally look backward and realize that you haven’t had your period for 12 months, you’ve come to terms with the changes, one way or another.


 

 

Wouldn’t it  be great if we had a warning light or a bell that went off somewhere when this whole process kicked in? Instead, we’re left in a state of confusion and uncertainty leading up to menopause that can last from the 40s to the 60s (yes, that long!). Although this transition stage finally has its own name – perimenopause, we know very little about it. There isn’t a definitive test for being perimenopausal. Hormones fluctuate so much throughout a woman’s cycle that your doctor can’t simply take a blood test one day and say “Yep, This is it – you are perimenopausal!”


 

 

The wide range of symptoms that one can expect and why we have them still remains a mystery.   Experts tell us that symptoms of perimenopause include irregular periods, hot flashes and night sweats. But what about those 5 pounds that you suddenly gain that you can’t lose, no matter how much you cut carbs, sweat on the elliptical, or crunch your way to an abdominal cramp? Or what about that gradual increase in anxiety that you can’t explain? Before you know it, you develop sleep problems and that wine (most tragically) starts to give you headaches. How about your recent habit of forgetting familiar names and words and those transient episodes when it seems like your mind is turning to mush…Where was I? Oh, right.  How are these symptoms related to menopause? It’s obvious that we’re going to need from both science and girlfriends to get to the bottom of this issue.  So, before you get distracted by a hot flash and forget, take a moment and send us your menopause moments, concerns and questions!