Coping With ADHD Memory Loss
Sometimes the influence of a mental health condition goes beyond the expected symptoms and criteria for diagnosis. When this is the case, the impact of the illness seems to infiltrate and corrupt multiple aspects of your mental health, physical health, everyday functioning, and overall wellbeing. The condition makes life more complicated in ways too numerous to count.
Take attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as an example. It’s known to affect your attention, concentration, and activity levels. Inattention symptoms include:
- Problems staying organized
- Avoiding tasks that require mental effort
- Losing important items frequently
- Easily distracted
- Not listening when spoken to
- Not following through on instructions
- Forgetting events or information regularly
By investigating the symptoms, it is easy to see just how pervasive ADHD can be in someone’s life. Someone who has problems staying organized will likely suffer at school, work, or home as necessary assignments or chores will be done incorrectly or not at all.
Someone who avoids tasks that require mental effort may appear to be lazy or unmotivated when the source is actually ADHD. If you inspect the final three items on the list, it will be easy to see the likely result.
Someone who has trouble listening to others, problems with follow-through, and is forgetful will have a poor memory.
Working Memory and Short-Term Memory
Children and adults with ADHD often have deficits in two types of memory. Working memory is a very short-term store of information that can be changed and modified to accomplish a goal.
Doing math in your head is a good example of working memory; trying to figure 110 minus 66 may take a bit of time to complete without paper, but you can image the numbers, manipulate them, and complete the subtraction to arrive at 44.
That is the power of working memory — it helps with everything from childhood games, to social interactions, to completing an important presentation for work. Any time information needs to be processed in your mind, it is working memory task.
Working memory is confused for short-term memory but stands in contrast for several reasons. Short-term memory’s primary responsibility is to remember information so it can be recalled at a later time.
It is used when someone gives you an order to complete or when you have to remember a phone number.
Short-term memory is a concern for people with ADHD but for another reason: a lack of attention or concentration to the task at hand will not allow the information to be accepted into short-term memory.
If the information is not absorbed, there will be no way to recall it at a later time. For example, if someone is giving you a list of items to pick up from the store and you are distracted by the bird outside the window or you begin thinking of a TV show from last night, you may only remember a few pieces of the complete list.