Depression Worsens Memory

When you’re depressed, it’s hard to think about anything but feeling depressed or situations that reinforce your depression. Negative thoughts take hold and spiral out of control. Depressed individuals ruminate on negative thoughts seemingly without end. All of this focus on negativity can cause loss of short-term memory. After all, if you’re focused on something negative all the time, it’s hard to remember where you put your car keys.

Researchers believe this is because depression controls your mind so much that it crowds out other thoughts. Dysphoria, the opposite of euphoria, is linked to and perhaps the cause of impaired memory. According to analysis in Medical Daily:

“A dysphoric or depressed person focuses on “mood-congruent” thoughts, or thoughts that are consistent with one’s mental state (i.e. suicidal thoughts are consistent with severe depression). This may be because depression can control your mind and mood to the point that it will leave you with little room to think of other things.”

The article continues:

“Results from these studies imply that mood-congruent information evokes controlled attention deficits in individuals with depressed mood,” the authors write. “If mood-congruent information is not able to be efficiently removed from the focus of attention, we would expect this to result in a relative decrease in working-memory capacity for individuals with depressed mood compared to those without depressed mood.”

While it is difficult to break this cycle, it can be done. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can give you skills to help you change your focus of attention and not take small slights, that likely have nothing to do with you, personally. Though easier said than done, improving memory is part of recovery from depression. The memory lapses caused by depression are not permanent. Seek help now if depression is keeping you from living your best life.