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Feeling dumber since bipolar onset


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I was wondering whether anyone else has noticed a cognitive decline since developing bipolar disorder. I used to be really sharp which has since deteriorated since my first major depression. I was playing a game the other day and I couldn't remember words, and when I try and calculate the difference between times I struggle. I also struggled on psychometric testing for jobs, whereas before I had bipolar I got a perfect score on the GRE. I just feel that a huge part of who I am has been lost to this illness, and I'm hoping it'll get better, but I really don't know. 

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I have experienced this, too. I have had two hospitalizations for major episodes of bipolar psychosis, and find that while I was once quite exceptional at academics and caught on quickly to pretty much anything I am very slow now, both mentally and physically. I am also told by sources I trust that some of my memories are flat out wrong. I am employing brain training and memory games to try to combat any further decline.  I am sure the meds that I am on to prevent further episodes don't help, though...but I'd rather be slow than rapidly cycling between mania and depression literally every five minutes.

Edited by epiphanyanon
Stupid phone.
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I have had this problem also.  When I was first diagnosed BP (before the SZA), I still had a pretty good memory then.  It got worse when I started ODing, and they started me on different meds, mainly high doses of anti-psychotic meds that I felt made the difference and made me think slower.  Over time (years) it has gotten worse, and currently I have the hardest time with word recall, as well as forgetting words and objects (like calling everything "that thing over there" because I can't think of what the word is).  My memory is just shot.  This probably doesn't happen to everyone, but it has and continues to affect me.

Edited by melissaw72
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I believe there is a known/accepted link for cognition issues caused by depression, and I imagine it's the same for mania.  

I just finished a study looking at Liraglutide (a type 2 diabetes med) to combat cognition issues associated with bipolar depression.  As part of the study to qualify they tested my cognition and found for my education level etc that I was impaired.

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I have lost a lot of memory, which I think is due to episodes, medication and ECTs. I do not remember and learn things as quickly. I always make a joke that I don't need to buy new books because I can reread my old ones since I forgot them.

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I had very close to what would be a photographic memory until I became ill. My memory is definitely compromised now and very far from being photographic, but I think it also isn't as bad as it might be if I had a more normal kind of memory to start off with. At times, I still find myself absently assuming that any information someone tells me or I read will be stored away for easy retrieval. Mostly though, I've adapted behaviourally to compensate for what I lost. It involves a lot of writing things down in notebooks and on post its.

If I were were working in a job that was memory intensive, it would definitely be a problem though.

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I do not remember and learn things as quickly.

^me too.

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I had very close to what would be a photographic memory until I became ill.

I forgot about this!  Maybe I forgot about it because I just haven't had my photographic memory for so long now.  I was always good with numbers too.  I still have a little left of that in me, but nothing like before.

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I've adapted behaviourally to compensate for what I lost. It involves a lot of writing things down in notebooks and on post its.

Post-its are the best.  The different colored ones so I can separate what I am doing so none of them "gets lost on the crowd" and forgotten to do.  I also have my daytimer that I don't go anywhere without.  That has everything in it.

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7 hours ago, wadjet said:

I have lost a lot of memory, which I think is due to episodes, medication and ECTs. I do not remember and learn things as quickly. I always make a joke that I don't need to buy new books because I can reread my old ones since I forgot them.

LOL. I've actually been doing this. I even forget most everything after the second (or even third) reading. In fact, I only seem to have semi-decent recall immediately after reading. If I go have lunch and come back, I find that I have already forgotten a bunch. Anything that builds upon previously-read information becomes difficult to comprehend as a result. I find that I can only navigate such stuff if I make an outline and refer to that as I go along. In my day-day affairs, I need to make lots of lists, notes, and other reminders. I find the calendar app to be very helpful.

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I'm in school now for the first time in 20 years ,since I got sick.

I used to be a straight A student etc.intellectual,read tons of books.

over the last 20 years I've been on every med possible,IP,IOP,a living hell.

I'm supposed to be good now.

I'm not.

I struggle with comprehension of the material,have to read everything multiple times,got a C!

it's so embarrassing.I feel brain damaged.BP changed the whole game.

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I just want to add my opinion and experience. I wasn't ill until I was 18. I was very bright during my young teens and very smart as well. After starting AAP I had a gradual decline in quickness and ability to figure out problems. I'm 30 now so about 12 years and the meds I had to take and SZA Bipolar type has definitely affected me.

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I don't really remember life before the disease took over (at 13), but I can definitely relate to some cognitive issues - like having to re-read a sentence over and over and over again to comprehend its meaning. Slight memory problems, I guess, but more so the not being able to understand basic sentences got to me.

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43 minutes ago, xmo said:

I don't really remember life before the disease took over (at 13), but I can definitely relate to some cognitive issues - like having to re-read a sentence over and over and over again to comprehend its meaning. Slight memory problems, I guess, but more so the not being able to understand basic sentences got to me.

^^You aren't alone ... re-reading something over and over for me really gets to me.  What happened after awhile, was the re-reading and re-reading turned in to obsessive characteristics, where I read things over and over "just in case" I missed the meaning.  Did you find this happened to you?

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7 minutes ago, melissaw72 said:

^^You aren't alone ... re-reading something over and over for me really gets to me.  What happened after awhile, was the re-reading and re-reading turned in to obsessive characteristics, where I read things over and over "just in case" I missed the meaning.  Did you find this happened to you?

It didn't become an obsessive behavior with me; instead it frustrated me and deterred me from even trying to read or learn something new. The only time I would even pick up a book was when I was forced to, like when I took my grandpa to the doctor, and that was just me pretending to read in order to avoid social contact with strangers. But since I've been medicated it hasn't happened, so it must have been related to some kind of symptom, I guess... don't know which though

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Same with me ... even now ... I do not pick up a book unless I am forced to.  And it does get frustrating, you're right.

Re picking up a book to pretend to read to avoid contact with people ... I'll have to try that.  Thanks!  It is usually when I am in DRs offices that this happens. 

Based on past experience, the backfire I know of is when a certain cousin says, "What have been reading lately?"  And I vaguely say something but I have no idea what I am talking about.  Just putting word together to make a sentence. "What is it about?" I am guaranteed to be asked this too.  I feel so obligated to tell him too.  Not sure why. 

I figured out what to say the next time though ... have you read anything by Elyn Sacks?  There is a pdf that I downloaded, and a couple-few years ago I ended up reading it in a day (300-400 pages) and understood it well because I could really relate to it I could really understand it.  Anyway, he has a younger daughter who listens in (and who asks lots of questions in general), and I'm going to tell him it is about someone who is schizophrenic ... point being that he will probably have to explain MI to his daughter.  I'm hoping it will just shut him up.

(Don't want to cut this short, because of hijacking the thread, but PM me if you want to say more about this).

 

(Sorry to hijack the thread ... )

 

survivingbp ... I hope you are doing ok.  I know how frustrating it is when you can't remember stuff as well as you used to.

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On December 4, 2015 at 4:49:41 PM, survivingbp said:

I was wondering whether anyone else has noticed a cognitive decline since developing bipolar disorder. I used to be really sharp which has since deteriorated since my first major depression. I was playing a game the other day and I couldn't remember words, and when I try and calculate the difference between times I struggle. I also struggled on psychometric testing for jobs, whereas before I had bipolar I got a perfect score on the GRE. I just feel that a huge part of who I am has been lost to this illness, and I'm hoping it'll get better, but I really don't know. 

I notice this to to be honest. I space out a lot and forget something I was thinking about 30 secs ago. I fumbled words from time to time. I think It may be quite common? I don't know though.

i hope it gets better for you.

Edited by Chrisja1987
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Well, I'm getting, or have gotten, older, and I've never heard anyone say that that does anything to improve your memory. But I was never not-bipolar. I got suicidal for the first time when I was nine, and it's been a party ever since. 

Usually when I find that I'm having real problems thinking straight or learning it's because I'm depressed again, whether I've noticed it in other respects or not. Or else my meds are fucked up again.

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