Depression is an inability to deal with routine activities of life effectively. It is a condition that causes both emotional & physical symptoms like feeling worthless & sad, trouble sleeping, tiredness, and fatigue. Moreover, people also complain that sometimes it feels difficult to remember things and small details. This complaint arose the question, is there any link between depression and memory loss?
Can depression cause memory loss? If yes, then what is the impact of this on the quality of life, and how can it be treated? This article will provide you with the answers to these questions.
Depression and memory loss
Several studies have been conducted from 2013 to date. The core purpose of early studies was to find out if depression can affect people’s ability to complete memory tasks? The studies concluded that depression does affect memory. But how? Here is the answer in the next section.
How Can Depression Cause Memory Loss?
Depression is basically an imbalance of hormones in your brain in response to any stressful event. One of these stress hormones is cortisol; raising cortisol levels in the brain inhibits the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, ultimately causing it to shrink.
Hippocampus is the part of your brain that is directly linked to memory and learning ability; therefore, a reduced volume of the hippocampus can affect memory.
Antidepressants Link With Memory Loss
Antidepressants help treat depression; however, with time, continuous usage of some antidepressants(tricyclics & SSRI) can result in short-term memory loss.
Antidepressants that cause dementia are anticholinergic in the mode of action, which means they block the release of the hormone called Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in the decoding of sensory stimuli & encoding of memory. Moreover, these drugs also affect the secretion of dopamine: the formation of new memories such as encoding & consolidation requires stimulation of dopamine receptors.
Therefore interference in the Acetylcholine & dopamine production can cause forgetfulness.
We need to know the basic types of memory to further understand which type does depression affects the most.
Types of Memory
The different types of memory are as follows.
- Short-term memory: helps us to remember & process information. It only holds information for about 20 to 30 seconds. Your ability to read this article is because of your short-term memory.
- Long-term memory is the type of memory you can hold for a lifetime. For example, when you recall your first day at school: it is your long-term memory.
- Working memory lasts for a few hours. An example is when you memorize your lesson for an exam or test.
Depression affects cognitive ability, i.e., it causes difficulty in concentration, learning, and taking instant decisions in routine, eventually causing short-term memory loss. Women suffering from 3 to 5 symptoms of depression have 60% more chances of having cognitive impairment.
Some researchers did follow up on the patients who suffered from depression in their twenties, thirties, or forties. It was found that the same patients showed up with cognitive impairment in their fifties. Hence if left untreated, depression can also lead to memory loss later in life.
Some Other Causes Of Memory Loss
If you are suffering from depression and it’s getting difficult to memorize, or you forget things quickly, you also need to look out for other causes of memory loss, such as
- Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
- Brain tumor.
- Brain injuries.
Memory loss can be one of the symptoms of depression, but it might not be the only reason behind forgetfulness.
Treatment Options To Manage Memory Loss Due To Depression
If depression is the root cause of memory loss, then the treatment should focus on managing depression. Here are some valuable suggestions;
- Try lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy and balanced diet, meditation, getting enough sleep & spending quality time with your loved ones.
- There are some effective therapies like communication therapy, experiential therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or group therapy. Get help from mental health expert to find out which one might work for you.
- If the symptoms are severe, you should consult a psychiatrist. You can get the right medication to alleviate your symptoms without causing adverse effects.
Depression is a thief that steals all the beauty from your life, forcing you to go with its flow instead of living your life to the fullest. Memory is a blessing; forgetfulness is a curse! How annoying it is to not be able to remember things that are important for your life at work or home.
Therefore it is so important to look for signs that link depression and memory loss. If there are any, proceed accordingly, and most importantly, you should never take depression lightly as it can affect your memory!