Depression can be a debilitating illness that affects different areas of your life. One often-overlooked aspect of depression is its impact on memory. Can depression cause memory loss? It can be difficult to quantify and measure the effects of depression on memory, but there’s evidence to suggest a link between the two.
Recalling memories is an essential part of our day-to-day lives. When depression interferes with that process, it can have a significant impact on our quality of life. Memory loss interrupts daily life and can cause difficulty at work, school and social situations. Many things can cause memory loss, and depression is believed to be one of them.
How Memory Works and How We Measure It
Memory is an ephemeral and complex thing, and it can be challenging to spot the symptoms of memory loss amidst the other symptoms of depression. Memory can be broadly divided into two types: declarative and procedural. Declarative memory is our ability to remember facts and events. In contrast, procedural memory is our ability to remember how to do things.
There’s no definitive test for memory loss. Instead, doctors typically rely on a combination of tests and observations to diagnose memory loss or impairment. One common test is the Wechsler Memory Scale, which measures different aspects of memory such as short-term recall, visual reproduction and working memory. Other tests may assess language skills, executive function (the ability to plan and organize) and visuospatial skills (the ability to perceive and interpret the world around us).
Can Depression Cause Memory Loss?
Depression can lead to a number of different symptoms that can impact memory. Whether depression is the root cause of memory loss or a byproduct of another symptom varies between individuals. Common symptoms of depression include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Studies have shown that people with depression are more likely to experience memory problems than those who aren’t depressed. One study from 2013 found that people with depression had trouble identifying objects they were shown that were identical to an object they had seen before. The researchers believed depression was causing diminishing memory.
Since depression can lead to problems like lack of sleep and increased stress, it can take a toll on your memory. Depression can make it difficult to focus, impacting your ability to remember things. When you’re depressed, you may also have trouble finding the motivation to do something, which can lead to forgetting important tasks.
Despite problems with memory being a common symptom in those suffering from depression, it can be difficult to diagnose because depression can cause changes in many areas of life. Some common symptoms of memory loss to look out for include:
- Forgetting recent events or conversations
- Difficulty retaining new information
- Trouble with short-term memory
- Forgetting how to do things you’ve done before
- Losing items or misplaced items
- Feeling confused about time or place
These symptoms can have a profound impact on your life, making it difficult to work, socialize or even take care of yourself. Many studies have researched the link between depression and memory loss.
What the Studies on Depression and Memory Loss Say
Researchers have long been interested in the link between depression and forgetfulness. A number of studies have found that people with depression are more likely to experience memory problems than those who aren’t depressed.
In a study from 2021, researchers concluded that depressive patients of any age, whether young or old, display negative symptoms with their memory. In particular, memory destruction and memory bias were found to be the most significant problems. Memory bias impairs memory recollection by altering what an individual remembers. In depressive people, negative memory bias can result in an individual remembering a greater number of negative events than positive ones. Memory destruction relates to recurrent depressive episodes, which can shrink the size of the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for memory.
People with depression struggle with remembering specific parts of their own history. A study conducted in 2018 found that people with depression would overgeneralize their past without recalling the finer details of their life. These studies show that depression can have a negative impact on memory, whether it’s causing problems with recalling specific events or retaining new information. Depression and short-term memory loss can make it difficult to focus, which can have a ripple effect on your life.
If someone has recurrent episodes of depression, this can lead to more problems. A 2013 study found that those who suffer from long-term depression are 3.24 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is brought on by nerve cell damage in the brain, and brain and nerve damage can cause memory loss.
Depression causes memory loss, but treatment is possible. Speaking to your doctor right away can help prevent depression from causing more issues.
Depression Reduces Quality of Life
Depression is a debilitating mental illness that can have far-reaching effects. Not only does it impact memory, but it can also lead to difficulty concentrating, affect mood and energy levels and cause other cognitive issues. In severe cases, depression can even lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Realizing you or someone you love is suffering from depression isn’t always easy. It can be difficult to tell the difference between depression and other health issues. However, there are a few key indicators that can help you recognize depression:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleep problems
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability or restlessness
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or helplessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to reach out. Depression is treatable with the right help.
How to Seek Help for Memory Loss Related Depression
If you think you may be suffering from depression, the first step is to speak with your doctor. They can help you determine if your symptoms are due to depression or another health issue.
There are a number of different treatment options for depression, including therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Antidepressants and memory loss can be a concern, but it’s important to remember that depression itself can lead to memory problems. The best treatment plan for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your depression.
Depression can harm every aspect of your life, but treatment can help improve your symptoms. If you’re struggling with memory loss related to depression, contact us at Restore to find a treatment plan suited to you. Call us at 877-594-3566 to discuss options and start your journey to overcome depression today.