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Did you forget your phone at home? Did you forget an appointment? Can the cause be depression? How can memory loss and depression be a link? 

If you are living a life with depression, more than just a depressed mood, you would probably know that it can cause many more symptoms. Some common sign includes forgetfulness and difficulty in concentration. So if you have been feeling more forgetful, it can be because of depression. 

Depression may cause a person to perform worse on brain function tests over time. How can you deal with memory loss and depression? 

Memory loss 

Memory loss is a problem that affects most people, to a degree. It can be either occasional forgetfulness or loss of short-term memory interfering with daily life. 

It is the unusual forgetfulness where you may not be able to remember new events, recall one or more memories of the past, or both. Sometimes it can be resolved or it may not go away, and it can get worse over time, depending on the cause. 

Lack of sleep, alcohol, smoking, medications, nutrient deficiency and depression are some of the causes. And thus treatment for memory loss depends on the causes. 

How are Memory loss and depression linked? 

Memory loss and depression

There are many studies that have been investigated to find out the link between memory loss and depression. According to research conducted in the year 2019, it was found that depression can affect brain-related functions that include long-term memory and memory of working, which is the ability to hold and use the information for a short period of time. 

People with depression have a low decision-making function, attention, and memory when compared to a person who does not have depression. 

It can sometimes disrupt the memories that define who you are as well as the sense of self. Moreover, it can sometimes be biased towards more negative memories than recalling positive memories about yourself. 

There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus where the new brain cells grow. And this is very important to form memories and helps in forming, organizing, and storing memories. But when you become depressive, the body will move to a stress response and release a hormone called cortisol. And too much cortisol will stop the growth of new cells in the hippocampus causing it to shrink, and affecting memory. 

Depression affects sleep 

It is usually common that people who struggle with depression normally experience weakness and changes in sleeping habits. When your sleep is constantly disturbed, it can affect cognitive functions. 

Depression usually causes an imbalance in neurotransmitters (which regulated mood and sleep) and this imbalance make individuals struggle with depression experiencing sleeping trouble or having trouble sleeping too much. It is found that getting too little or too much sleep affects cognitive function, especially visual memory and response time. 

The brain to perform at its best requires an optimal amount of sleep for 7 to 9 hours. Sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours will result in impaired cognitive function. 


For depression symptoms, you would be given antidepressants for relief.  But certain antidepressants cause difficulty to concentrate or sometimes lead to short-term memory loss.  So if you have been prescribed antidepressants it is better to continue them but if you’re currently taking it and are experiencing short-term memory loss, and are concerned about the possible long-term effects of taking it you need to talk to your psychiatrist. 

How memory issues of depression could affect you? 

Memory loss caused by depression

Everyone with depression will not experience memory loss. But when memory issues develop as a result of depression, they can cause numerous problems, harming your moods, feelings, and thoughts, while creating a negative effect on your quality of life. 

Having major depressive disorder or other conditions can cause depressive symptoms. 

Short-term memory loss

Depression can affect your working memory and you may find it hard to remember information in real-time, where things like numbers and spatial information might slip into your mind in certain situations. 

Difficulty in focusing

Research shows that depression often has a negative effect on workplace performance. And so the effects of depression on your memory might make you find it difficult to focus on specific tasks. 

Overly negative memories

Depression often makes you remember more negativity than positive memories. When you recall past events, you might focus on their negative aspects while beginning to generalize that certain events or moments were negative, even if this isn’t accurate.

Impaired decision making

The effects on memory and focus, make depression affect your ability to make decisions. You might find it difficult to think about the options objectively that are there for you to decide what to do in certain situations.

How does Depression affect memory loss in Adults? 

Adults who experience depression in their 20s, 30s, and 40s have a chance of experiencing memory loss in their 50s. In 1958 a study was conducted following the participants starting from childbirth,  through childhood, into adulthood.  Observations related to physical, social, and educational development were being done. During his research,  it was observed that one time of depression did not have a significant effect on memory function later in life.

But they found a steady decrease in memory function in older adults when they had experienced two or three, or even more times.

Does depression cause permanent brain damage?

Memory loss and depression linked

If depression doesn’t last for years at a time, it would not have a profound effect on the brain.  But in adults older than 65, repeated episodes of depression can cause patients to develop dementia.

Medications, mostly antidepressants have been conclusively shown negative effects on memory. But certain antidepressants can put the patient at risk for short-term or even long-term memory problems, they’re being taken for years at a time or taken by an elderly patient.

Diagnosis of memory loss and depression

Other than depression, memory problems can be caused by many things including sleep deprivation, medications, and typical aging processes. So in order to get the most appropriate treatment, the first step is to find out the reason behind the memory challenges. 

To test for cognitive issues, there are a variety of approaches and a typical cognitive exam includes a few examinations. 

How to treat memory loss and depression? 

Taking a few steps of the right treatment can heal depression and improve how you feel. It requires doing things that support your brain function while avoiding behaviors that are harmful to it. The following strategies can help you get back to reversing your memory loss caused by depression. 

Try meditation

meditation for memory loss and depression

One of the ways to bring back depression and memory loss could be meditation. If you have never meditated before,  when you do it you will likely be pleased by the way it helps you to feel focused.  Moreover, helps to improve brain function.  A daily 13-minute guided meditation over the course of 8 weeks can benefit by resulting in a better mood, memory, and focus. 

Switch to a good diet

Inflammation in the brain can be a contributing factor to depression, brain fog, and memory issues, even though you are not likely to physically feel it. Foods including sugar and other glycemic foods along with processed with hydrogenated oils will promote inflammation and can cause symptoms. 

Therefore it is important to consume foods that support the function of the brain such as that was found in the Mediterranean diet. It includes leafy greens, tomatoes, legumes, berries, olive oil, nuts, and cold water fish like salmon. Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids and curcumins also have anti-inflammatory properties.

One supplement that has been shown to lower the risk of condition of inflammation is fish oil. It is fine in older people as it benefits the fatty acids and possibly improves memory. Consume foods that contain high levels of vitamin D, because low levels of vitamin D have been associated with poorer memory function, and ensuring that your body’s levels of vitamin D are normal is also an important thing to consider.

Regular exercises

If you feel depressed, it might be hard to start exercising at first. But if you take the first step, you will feel a little better and it motivates you to do it more often. 

This is because exercise increases blood flow in the brain and causes the release of neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, that help us feel better. Exercises including strength training, aerobic activity, and mind-body exercise, like yoga, can reduce depressive symptoms and induce the brain’s ability to repair itself.

Workout for your brain

For the need to stay strong, we need to exercise our muscles, similarly, there is also a need to engage in brain workouts for brain functions. 

Especially after experiencing depression-related memory loss and thinking problems, a brain workout can help you to recover from memory loss and depression. There are some very accessible tools that are helpful for cognitive issues and can easily be fixed in your day.

You can try crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Word search puzzles, and Wordle. Or you can try online brain games that require concentration, speed, and recall. You can refer to the dictionary and learn new words, and memorize the alphabet backward. 

As your memory improves and you will be able to think more clearly, work your brain even more with challenges. 

You can take a class on a new hobby that interests you, learn a new foreign language, and learn to play a musical instrument.  

Manage your sleep routine

Sleeping is also a factor that plays into many parts of your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can have many negative effects on your memory. 

Allowing yourself to sleep enough is extremely important for your memory and will ultimately contribute to better cognitive function overall. So you need to focus on having a better sleep routine and 

How to manage memory loss? 

You can typically manage Memory loss caused by depression with regular therapy, regular counseling, and antidepressants. You need to focus on leading an active lifestyle and getting involved in the community which helps to elevate your mood. 

By using memory aids you can also manage your memory loss. For example, you can use alarm clocks to keep track of time, place safety notes on appliances, and color-coding household items, which can help you manage.

You may also consider getting a home care provider to help you as needed or consider joining a support group.

How to prevent depression?

keep a reminder for your memory loss

There is no definite way to prevent depression. But a few things might help.

Final thoughts

The link between memory loss and depression is common, where it affects lack of sleep, causes problems in part of the brain, and releases constant stress response. Depending on your emotional and mental state, memory loss caused by depression can either improve or worsen.

You should schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice problems with your memory. Find the cause and get proper treatment to reduce depression and improve your memory.