The memory loss mystery affecting 1 in 10 middle-aged Americans

There seems to be something in the air this time of year. More and more of my patients are complaining about stress, fatigue, forgetfulness, or feeling just plain overwhelmed.

These types of complaints are par for the course — especially given that I practice and live in New York City, one of the most intense cities on the planet. But this strikes me as something different.

So when I came across the article I want to discuss with you today, I found myself a little bewildered. And here’s why…

A self-reported epidemic of brain drain

The CDC reports that roughly 11 percent of Americans over the age of 45 claim to be experiencing cognitive decline.

As a doctor, I hear these types of concerns every day. So the news itself doesn’t surprise me. But I’m shocked at the prevalence of it…

This report found that more than one in 10 relatively young people feel that their minds are slipping — a condition the researchers refer to as “subjective cognitive decline,” or SCD.

More specifically, when it comes to SCD, this study found:

  • A total of 11.2 percent of respondents in this study reported SCD
  • Of those, 10.4 percent fell between the ages of 45 and 54
  • More than half of these subjects reported experiencing functional limitations related to SCD
  • Close to 14 percent of subjects with SCD lived alone
  • Just over 15 percent of subjects with SCD also struggled with a chronic disease

And just a reminder: we’re not talking about old folks in retirement homes here. These are active people who are in the prime of their lives.

What’s more, fewer than half of the subjects reporting memory loss discussed these symptoms with their doctor. And among the many questions this study raises, the researchers should really be asking themselves why that is…

Because like I said, I personally hear these complaints all the time. And maybe it’s because I actually do something to address my patients concerns.

Your average doctor, though? They don’t really want to hear about it. Because even if they had the time to help you — and most mainstream doctors don’t — they have nothing to offer, anyway. Because conventional medicine doesn’t see this as a condition you can recover from…

But they are very, very wrong.

Not all memory problems are Alzheimer’s

It’s true that subjective cognitive decline is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s. But let me be clear: Not all SCD is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

By definition, SCD involves more frequent or worsening symptoms of confusion or memory loss over the course of a year. In many cases, it’s enough to interfere with the activities of daily life, such as cooking and cleaning.

But not all sufferers will go on to develop Alzheimer’s, or even a more serious form of cognitive decline. These concerns are valid, of course — but they’re not a guaranteed precursor to a dementia diagnosis.

This is why we owe it to our patients to identify the reason behind cognitive decline, rather than just chalking it up to old age. There are many causes of memory loss that can be remedied. And in some cases, simple testing can detect a range of these causes — from conditions like thyroid dysfunction (and other hormone imbalances) to a leaky gut.

But it’s also important to note that there are also plenty of scenarios in which a simple blood test would prove ineffective.

Could the cause behind the cognitive decline be depression? Is it simply stress from all the constant to-do lists we have on our minds? Is it the constant barrage of stimulation from our devices? Is it lack of sleep? Is it all the hate that’s so pervasive in our society at this exact moment in time that’s clouding our minds?

These are all possible causes of SCD, too.

Your three-step starter guide for combatting SCD

Given all of the different potential culprits, there’s no single answer that will address every case of SCD. But I’ll share three very simple tips that have worked for me and many of my patients…

1.)   Do a “device detox.” A few times a week, step away from the devices—your phone, your laptop, your tablet. Set aside an hour or so and simply stop looking at them.

Ultimately, you may be shocked at just how effective “unplugging” can be in recharging your mental batteries. And if it doesn’t work? Well rest assured, there are plenty more strategies you can try. For instance…

2.)   Schedule time for self-care. Each week you should make time to do things for yourself like take a nap, read, journal, immerse yourself in a hobby, listen to music, sit outside, enjoy a drink or two, or just sit and reflect.

And every so often, when time allows every so often, take a short vacation. Spend time with the people who matter to you. Exercise enough to feel good and manage stress. But not so much that it adds additional stress to your life.

3.)   Supplement strategically. If stress and anxiety are recurring issues for you, then tailor your supplement regimen accordingly, by incorporating some herbs and nutrients known for their soothing benefits. The list of options is endless, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Theanine – a calming agent found in green tea.
    I recommend using it on an as-needed basis at 200 mg per dose.
  • SAMe – an amino acid that regulates cortisol to reduce stress.
    Take 400 mg every morning.
  • Holy basil – an adaptogen (meaning it reduces stress in the body).
    Take 200-300 mg at night before you go to bed.
  • Valerian root – a sedative that helps you fall asleep faster (and improves sleep quality).
    Take 200-300 mg at night before you go to bed.

Memory loss is frightening. But you can fight it, especially if you start early. And I’m here to help you. Last year, I introduced my Drug-Free Protocol for Reversing Alzheimer’s and Dementia with a goal of doing exactly that. But its contents are valuable to anyone with memory struggles, whatever the cause.

So if you’re noticing cognitive changes, don’t wait. Be proactive. Click here to learn more, or to enroll today.