Depression and Memory Loss

Depression is more widespread than you might think; according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, more than 19 million Americans have experienced at least one major depressive episode in their lifetimes. Some research has even found that depression could negatively impact memory.

Common Symptoms

Living with depression can make daily life rather difficult. For example, people with this condition might struggle with concentrating on work or making decisions. They may also find it difficult to think clearly.

As you might expect, depression can induce feelings of sadness, numbness or hopelessness. Depression can also cause anxiety, and force those affected by this condition to lose interest in hobbies or other activities. Some people complain of feeling fatigued, or feel restless and irritable. Other possible symptoms caused by depression are shown below:

  • Significant changes in body weight, often caused by a poor appetite.
  • Disrupted and irregular sleeping patterns.
  • Bouts of physical pain, such as back pain, stomach aches and headaches.
  • Thoughts of death or contemplation of suicide.

Impact on Memory

Multiple studies have concluded that depression can inhibit short term memory. For example, a 2013 study from Brigham Young University found that depressed subjects struggled to identify objects they had seen a short time prior. This report analyzed a total of 98 participants, all of whom were asked to complete questionnaires regarding feelings of depression and levels of exercise.

A 2015 report reached similar conclusions. A collaborative effort between researchers from the University of Texas and Michigan State University, this study found that those living with depression could develop short-term memory loss. A third study, released in 2018 and published in the journal Psychological Medicine, noted that depression could make it difficult for adults to accurately recall important events and memories from earlier in their lives.

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