Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens, Stress and Memory Loss

As adults we always seem to be forgetting phone number, names, and more. As we get older we believe our memory is fading, but have you considered this in teens and children? Stress can be a factor, especially with adult, however it can also be in our kids today. Connect with Kids just posted an educational article for parents to better understand this and helpful tips.

Source: Connect With Kids

Stress and Memory Loss

“I think it’s kind of validating that it’s not just ‘Oh, we’re crazy and scattered,’ but there’s really a reason why we tend to lose it a bit when we are overstressed and overscheduled.”

– Dr. Marla Shapiro, psychologist

Some teens do poorly on exams, not because they don’t know the answers, but because they’re nervous. “A lot of times, I’ll, like, stay up really late, and we’ll do flash cards or whatever, and then when it comes time for the test I’ll just sort of forget,” says 14-year-old Alix. Sixteen-year-old Reed Gott has seen it too. “A lot of times people get stressed out, and they just totally, like, bomb a test.”

According to a recent study in the journal Science, the culprit is an enzyme called PKC, or protein kinase C. Under stress, this protein in the brain causes short-term memory loss. “Unpredicted stress or unexpected events over which we have no control can activate levels of PKC and cause some of the forgetfulness and the scatteredness that we all feel when we’re really stressed,” explains psychologist Marla Shapiro.

She explains that with everything teens are expected to do, tests, papers, applying to college, add to that jobs, sports, activities and a social life, they can forget things often. Just like Jermeen Sherman, “Taking multiple AP classes or hard classes can be stressful, and I think sometimes that’s my problem, like I have too much work to do, and you try to do it all, and you lack somewhere.”

Shapiro says the best ways to overcome stress are good study skills, plenty of sleep, and if the student still draws a blank, “physically remove yourself from the situation, and take some slow deep breaths. The more they stare at that test paper, the more helpless they’re gonna feel.”

Tips for Parents

Experts say today’s children are experiencing anxieties at earlier ages. Stress can affect anyone, even children, regardless of age. Proper rest and good nutrition can help increase a child’s ability to cope with stress. It’s also important to make time for your child each day. Even as your child ages, “quality time” is important. By showing interest in your child throughout his or her life, you show that your child is important to you. Also, be sure to talk to your child about what causes stress in his or her life. Learning to relax is yet another way to combat stress.

Stress doesn’t have to be traumatic to lead to memory impairment. If one feels out of control, memory loss can occur. Control is the essential factor. When you are confident, you don’t have problems with memory.

•A child’s stresses are not limited to their own lives. If adult conversations, like office or financial troubles, are overheard, a child may experience stress.
•Stress raises kids’ risk for insomnia, skin disorders, headaches, upset stomach, depression and possibly obesity.
•Signs that your teen might be stressed include: frequent headaches, stomachaches and trouble handling anger.
•Signs that your pre-schooler or elementary student might be stressed include: sudden or extreme shyness, excessive irritability and bedwetting after months or years of dry nights.

•San Diego State University
•The Journal Science

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