Are you feeling forgetful and having trouble focusing? These symptoms of depression can affect your ability to get things done. Find out how to improve your memory and concentration.
Memory loss and an inability to focus may not seem like obvious symptoms of depression but they are more connected than most people realize.
“Research has suggested that processing speed, the ability to take in information quickly and efficiently is impaired in individuals who are depressed,” explains Natascha Santos, PsyD, a psychologist and behavior therapist in Great Neck, N.Y. Many areas of the brain are involved with the creation and retrieval of memories. Irregularities in any of these areas, including those that create depression symptoms, can affect how you process memories and also influence your ability to concentrate.
Depression and Concentration: The Far-Reaching Effects
At first, depression-based memory loss and difficulty focusing may just be mildly annoying, but these types of cognitive defects can become quite serious over time and result in a diminished level of functioning in many capacities:
People with depression often feel like they can’t focus when giving or receiving direction, which can result in misunderstandings at home, work, or school.
Relationships may suffer if people begin to perceive your distraction as a lack of consideration for what they’re trying to tell you.
You may find that you can’t focus on a task if other things are taking place around you, distracting you from your intended job and leaving it incomplete or below expectations.
Comprehending what you are reading may become difficult, resulting in missed information from written instructions or a lack of enjoyment when reading for pleasure.
Driving can become dangerous if your train of thought strays and you find you can’t focus on the road.
Your ability to remember specific details may be hindered due to your lack of concentration when given new information.
Overcoming Depression Memory Loss
Getting treatment for your depression which may include psychotherapy, medication, or other treatment modalities is a must to get a handle on related cognitive problems such as memory loss and poor concentration. There are also specific steps you can take to improve your memory and ability to concentrate. Speak with your health care provider to determine the best options for you. Often, a combination of these treatment methods yields the best results:
Remediation techniques may isolate and correct your specific cognitive impairments through drills that target the tasks you’re having trouble with. Computer software programs, written exercises, or group activities are often used.
Compensatory strategies are based on the idea that there’s more than one way to reach a desired outcome. With this approach you’re taught to use your strengths to compensate for any areas of cognitive deficiency. For example, if you are going shopping and have a poor verbal memory, you might not be able to remember the three items you were asked to purchase. If you’re better with categorizing, you might mentally sort the items into categories, such as dairy, snacks, and pet products, which can help you remember that you need to get milk, potato chips, and cat litter. Personal learning styles and preferences factor in, so it’s helpful to have an ongoing dialogue with your doctor. Over time, he or she will be able to determine the best compensatory strategies for you.
Adaptive approaches focus on changes you can make in your environment to help you function better. For example, if you have difficulty remembering tasks, you might use a digital recorder to dictate notes or record information that you can review later.
Depression and Concentration: Helpful Tips and Tricks
As you look to strategies to resolve depression memory loss, these tips can ease the impact of poor memory and concentration on your day-to-day life:
Move conversations to a quiet area with minimal distractions. Ask colleagues to speak about work matters in a private room rather than common spaces.
Don’t answer your phone if you’re somewhere you’ll be distracted, let it go to voice-mail so that you can listen to the call later and respond appropriately.
Make a list of daily tasks you need to accomplish and cross them off as they’re completed.
Use sticky notes as reminders in places where you’re sure to see them and write important reminders down immediately when they come to mind.
Have a set place at home and at work to store everyday items, such as car keys and your cell phone.
Take notes during meetings or use a recording device when appropriate so that you can review the information at a later time.
Finally, be honest with loved ones if you’re having a hard time focusing, especially during a conversation. This may prevent hurt feelings or miscommunications with the people who care about you the most.