Depression and Memory Loss
What you need to know
When you’re depressed, everything feels a little more difficult: getting out of bed, maintaining regular habits, and even remembering things. However, depression-related memory loss is not permanent and there are things you can do to help your memory begin functioning normally again. Memory loss due to depression can be insidious and sneaky, but once you understand all the different ways it can manifest and how it impacts your life, you’ll know exactly how to tackle it head-on.
What is Depression?
First things first: understanding what depression is and how it affects the human brain and body. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness and/or feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. It can also cause feelings of irritability, restlessness, and/or feelings of being tired all the time. Depression can make it difficult to carry out daily tasks as well as maintain healthy relationships.
Memory Loss During Depression
When you’re depressed, the first thing that may come to mind is the impact it has on your mood. However, you might not be aware that depression is also capable of impacting your cognition. This is why many people with depression experience changes in their memory and attention span, as well as other cognitive functions. When you’re depressed, your brain is functioning in a deficit state. On top of that, your brain is also being flooded with chemicals that are impeding normal cognitive functioning even further. This is why you might experience depression-related memory loss in the following ways:
- Forgetting things you normally wouldn’t, like where you put your keys, what you went to the store for.
- Taking longer to process new information, like instructions at work or new information in a class.
- Having trouble synthesizing new information, like putting pieces together in your mind or following a lecture or presentation
3 Tips to Help Your Memory When You’re Depressed
- Exercise. Studies show that exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mood, which can help you overcome depression. Exercise can also help boost your cognitive functioning, including your ability to remember things.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is a crucial part of your cognition, memory, and overall health. When you’re depressed, it’s often hard to sleep, which can exacerbate your depressive symptoms. Getting enough sleep (roughly eight hours a night) can help regulate your mood and improve your memory.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is important for your cognitive functioning, including your ability to remember things. You can also try eating foods that are rich in B vitamins, which are crucial to brain health and cognition.
2 Strategies to Help Prevent Future Memory Loss During Depression
- Stay positive. When you’re depressed, your brain is flooded with negative and impeding chemicals that can make it difficult for you to stay optimistic. However, being optimistic and having a positive outlook can help you get through a depressive episode and even improve your symptoms.
- Stay social. Being social and communicating with others can help you stay positive, connect with others, and remind yourself that you’re not alone in your battle.
When you’re depressed, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault. You’re not choosing to be depressed and you don’t have to feel guilty about how your illness affects your life. You can take action to help your brain return to normal functioning, and you can take steps to ensure you don’t experience memory loss again in the future. Remember, you don’t have to go through depression alone.
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