Depression and memory loss are often related, as depression can lead to memory loss due to disrupted cognitive performance. Along with your memory, depression can also impair your attention, information processing, and decision-making skills. Let’s take a deeper look at how depression affects a person’s memory. Read on to learn how depression is linked to memory loss.
How Depression Affects Your Mind
Major depression is very common among the American population. A 2020 study states that an estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode, representing 8.4% of all U.S. adults. The symptoms of depression are persistent sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, irritability, loss of interest, and restlessness. Since there are so many symptoms of depression, experiencing only a few symptoms can also disturb your brain’s mental processing. This can include facing difficulty in comprehending and processing information. Symptoms can be mild to major, depending on the type of depression and an individual’s current condition. Depression tends to target the following types of memory:
- Autobiographical memory
- Working memory
- Long-term memory
- Short-term memory
How Does Depression Affect Memory?
Depression leads to a clouded thought process, accompanied by forgetfulness and confusion. The stress and anxiety caused by this can lead to poor memory. However, it may provide some relief to know that depression has more of an impact on short-term memory rather than long-term. When memory disorders start to develop from depression, it can accompany other serious issues, including mood swings, disturbed feelings, actions, and thoughts, which might lead to degraded quality of life.
What Are the Causes of Memory Loss?
Anything that impacts learning, remembering, and thinking can affect memory. Apart from depression, there are many other causes of memory loss. The other causes that can also lead to memory loss include:
- Medication Side Effects: Medicine containing the composition of benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants are associated with a memory disorder. Cholesterol-lowering drugs, narcotic painkillers, and medication incontinence can also significantly affect memory.
- Excessive Alcohol or Drug Consumption: Limited and short-term use of alcohol does not affect the body much but sometimes may cause anterograde amnesia (a type of memory loss that does not support creating new memories). Excess use of alcohol has lasting side effects and memory disorders which might hamper your overall well-being. In this case, you will have difficulty creating new memories, but you won’t be aware of it.
- Lack of Sleep: Sleep deprivation can directly distress your mental health and promote memory loss in extreme cases. According to a study, poor mental health is common in the US. Nearly 1 in 5 US adults live with mental illness.
- Thyroid Problems: Thyroid problems are of two types; hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid glands are incapable of producing enough thyroid hormones. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid glands produce enough thyroid hormones, which control the energy-producing process and result in short-term memory loss.
- Head Injury: A single hit on the head can cause a brain concussion and lead to memory loss. In some cases, the situation worsens, while in others, it improves over time. Repeated hits can even bring up cognitive problems.
- Vitamin Deficiency: A study mentioned that vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to impaired cognition and memory along with a sensation of tingling and numbness, an outcome of poor myelination. High methylmalonic acid and serum homocysteine levels are markers of Vitamin B12 deficiency. The role of vitamin B12 is to keep our nerve cells healthy. However, it declines naturally as we age.
- Stress, Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and hippocampus damage are some other causes of memory loss.
Also read: When and How to Seek Help with Your Mental Health
Tips to Manage Memory Loss and Depression
Everyone forgets things occasionally, so here are some tips that can help you improve your memory and mitigate depression symptoms. If you experience frequent memory loss issues, it’s best to contact a medical professional to evaluate your symptoms.
- Maintain a Regular Sleep Routine: Sleep helps you associate with your memories and help your overall body, including your mind, to relax. Prioritizing your sleep can help your memory work effectively. Seven or more hours of sleep is necessary for most adults, depending on their mental health condition.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is vital in enhancing your body inside and outside. Including fruits, whole grains, lean fish, green vegetables, and olive oils may help you alleviate the symptoms of memory loss. Diet change might take more time, but taking your medicines simultaneously can help you achieve better results.
- Socialize with Your Loved Ones: Maintaining an active social life by interacting with your loved ones, old friends, and others to elevate your mood, which helps you to get rid of memory loss and depression.
- Move More in Your Daily Life: Applying the “move more, sit less” principle to your daily life has a great positive impact on the body, helps increase the blood flow to the entire body, and supports the memory to work sharply.
Need Help with Depression? Contact Newnan Family Medicine
Depression and memory loss can be treated with the right diagnosis. Your mental health affects your overall health, so if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above of depression or memory loss, contact us today. Our expert team at Newnan Family Medicine can help you treat anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. We provide complete mental health treatment and primary care for our patients.