Some may say that the connection between obsessive-compulsive disorder and memory loss is not something that should be on our radars. Some believe that it is unlikely. However, you may be wrong and here are some reasons why.

The redundant nature of the condition often creates bad habits in people and leads to a situation when they start forgetting compulsions due to the tiring repetitiveness of the procedure. When memory ignores such actions and does not register them for a thousandth time in a row, another bad habit may form. A habit to not memorize anything. Let’s talk seriously about how OCD can notably impair one’s ability to remember.

Several types of memory

In order to make a couple of educated suggestions on the matter, we must go a slightly bit deeper and learn about memory. The fact is that memory has multiple dimensions and there are different types of memory. When you think in words and store information in lexical form, we talk about verbal memory. Information stored as sounds, imagery, and “clips” is non-verbal.

While OCD patients do not struggle with remembering words and sentences as well as verbal information in general, they often struggle with memorizing simplest non-verbal data. Visual memory is severely impaired in people with OCD. They do not remember drawings, shapes, and even colors of things that are shown to them seconds before asking them to describe them. This often leads to problems with orientation.

Scientists tried to bite on this problem and some suggested that non-verbal memory is processed slightly differently in the brain. The very process of deconstructing and storing visual information is not anything like storing words. People with OCD may memorize and store the data very efficiently yet have problems decoding the data from their brains wholly.

What is Metamemory?

As the name suggests, metamemory is something a little bit more global than memory itself. We usually mention it when referring to an ability of a person to evaluate their own memory and their ability to memorize things and use stored information effectively. Apparently, people with OCD often doubt their own ability to memorize visual information. When the symptoms of OCD worsen the same happens to the ability to use non-verbal memory. The connection is very strong and noticeable in nearly all OCD patients.

This weird bridge between metamemory and obsessive-compulsive disorder is something worrisome. The scientific community tries its hardest to identify not only ways to determine the severity of memory deterioration in patients but also ways to treat the condition and possibly even revert the damage. The question is whether it is a likely scenario in the nearest future.

How do we treat it?

There are various obstacles on the way to a cure. One of the problems is that scientists are not entirely sure how exactly the connection between OCD and metamemory works. The starting point is still vague. Some researchers believe that the deterioration is related mostly to obsessions that trouble patients while others claim that the real reason is compulsions. Understanding where to start is very important and we are still not ready to find the starting point.

The treatment is not developed due to yet another problem. Some scientists believe that memory deterioration can be related to anxiety that sometimes comes along with OCD. If the latter is true, the whole approach to treating the condition will be entirely different.

Main takeaways

OCD has many negative effects. People with such conditions often complain about loss of concentration and sever memory impairments. We still lack crucial information on the matter and need more competent research as soon as possible.