Can Depression Cause Memory Loss?

Louis Laves-Webb

June 14, 2022

Depression is a mental condition that can have multiple symptoms, including difficulties in motivation, ambition, and challenges with focusing on work, school, or other day-to-day tasks.  Chronic depression has also been correlated to short-term memory problems such as confusion and forgetfulness in some individuals.  Often, these short-term memory lapses will abate as depression is treated and better managed.  Long-term or procedural memory which controls motor skills is not associated with depression or depressive symptomatology.  In this post from the Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S blog, we will further explore depression and its intersection with memory.  

What Are The Symptoms Of Depression?

Depression is multifaceted and can range from low-level and chronic feelings of a lack of joy or excitement to severe episodic lows with suicidal ideation and chronic fatigue.  It generally involves a variation in symptoms and can be intermittent or longer-lasting.  Some of the most common symptoms of depression can include sadness, anxiety, numbness, anhedonia, and feelings of hopelessness. Those individuals that are feeling depressed can lose interest in activities and hobbies while feeling like they have minimal energy, or are fatigued. It’s common for those with depression to feel things like restlessness and irritability, as well as shame, guilt, and powerlessness. More intense bouts of depression can result in a loss of appetite, paired with drastic weight changes, and memory loss.  

What Research Says About Depression and Memory Loss

During a study in 2013, it was discovered that depressed individuals were unable to identify objects on a screen that were the same or very similar to an object they had seen previously. These researchers were able to suggest that memory function can be diminished in those individuals that are depressed. During a 2015 study, researchers came to a similar conclusion that depression might be capable of causing short-term memory loss. Depression can also cause confusion and make it challenging to focus on tasks. Although the precise mechanism for this is speculative, some theorize that this may have something to do with the hippocampus; the area of the brain associated with memory and learning is smaller in those suffering from prolonged depression.

What Are The Other Causes of Memory Loss?

Memory loss can be caused by many other things apart from depression. Some other causes of memory loss can include:

  • Age-related memory loss is rather common and quite manageable.
  • Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dimension.
  • Mild cognitive impairment can alter an individual’s thinking skills and can progress to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Head injury or trauma can trigger memory problems.
  • Certain medications can cause forgetfulness.
  • Brain tumors and infections can also cause dementia-like symptoms.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause problems with memory.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse can also impair mental state and abilities. Certain medications make the memory loss from alcohol worse.

These are just a few of the other conditions that can result in memory loss. If you’re concerned about memory loss, please consult your physician so any physical or physiological ailments can be properly diagnosed or ruled out.  

Looking For Help With Treating Depression? Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates Is Here For You

At Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates, our team of experienced therapists utilizes various interventions and tailors each session to meet your individual needs and comprehensively work to understand your depressive symptoms.  Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S & Associates are available to help you manage, change, and overcome your feelings of depression. Please contact us today online or over the phone to schedule an appointment with one of our professional therapists in Austin, TX.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can depression cause confusion?

Yes, research shows that there is indeed a link between clinical depression and bouts of memory loss, including forgetfulness and confusion. In general, the surrounding symptoms of depression have the ability to cloud judgment, making it challenging to make good decisions and focus. 

Can depression cause short-term memory loss?

Yes, those suffering from deep bouts of depression may find that they have difficulty with their short-term memory. This is a fairly common symptom of clinical depression, as the symptoms of depression work together to result in short-term memory loss. 

Does depression cause long-term memory loss? 

No, the symptoms of depression are more often associated with short-term memory loss. While there is some research that states those that are depressed have a higher chance of developing dementia, the general consensus is that depression affects short-term memory loss, not long-term.

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