Is Memory a Part of the Cognitive Dysfunction Associated w/BP?
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Q:  Is Memory a Part of the Cognitive Dysfunction Associated w/BP?

HI Dr. Phelps,

I have read your book "Why am I still depressed?". It is really good at describing the grays of the disorder. I would like to get more idea of the types of cognitive interruptions, or dysfunction that can occur? For instance, it seems that I have difficulty integrating "lessons learned" from past experiences as if the problem-solving skills in a new, and usually stressful, situation are gone from my memory files. Is memory function a component of cognitive dysfunction associated with bipolar disorder?


Dear Judi --

You are right, memory is a big part of the "cognitive dysfunction" associated with bipolar disorder. If you need a technical review, here is a recent one (
Torres). The good news is, if you can figure out how to decrease the amount of stress you face (I know, that is a nice wish, isn't it?), when you get on treatments that can prevent cycling into mood episodes, there is solid evidence that a lot of memory function can be recovered. For details on this, see my webpage on
treatment improving memory (most of the examples have to do with treating depression, but so far, it looks like the mechanism for bipolar depression is very similar to if not identical to the mechanism for "unipolar" depression, which is the focus of the essays on that and related webpages). 

Dr. Phelps


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