Monday, December 11, 2006

Memory Loss

If being depressed isn't enough with the lousy attitude, lack of desire to act, and complete disinterest in doing just about anything, a lot of victims have to deal with memory loss as well. It came to my attention just last night that a lot of people aren't aware of this complication from depression; perhaps they're just forgetting? What a sick and twisted thing to have happen . . . a symptom that prevents itself from being noticed!

I found a study on depression and anxiety for starters, so I was quickly able to confirm that there has been research in this area. It's interesting that the study found that while anxiety alone does not have an effect on memory, it can significantly compound with depression. It suggests that other studies that did not control for anxiety levels were frustrating to analyze.

I then discovered that there is a newsletter devoted to memory loss, and they had a wonderful article specifically addressing memory loss and depression a few years back. Salient points include:
  • Memory loss, like motivation and focus, are likely affected by the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • The mind filters memory to match mood; depressed people are much more likely to remember times when they're sad than they are to recall happy experiences. "It also reinforces the person's drab and negative view of life, fueling the depression."
  • Long term memories are not actually being lost so much as they are never forming at all due to the lack of focus and attention.
  • Treatment of the depression alleviates the memory problems.
I'm able to wrap my mind around the memory loss more comfortably now. Essentially, depression victims aren't able to pay enough attention to form as many memories, and the depression filters those so that the ones that reinforce the disease come more easily to mind. It's one more way that this disease becomes invisible, comfortable, and usual in the mind of its victims.

Goal for today: write down a good thing as soon as it happens. Many treatments suggest some sort of journal; if you want to make this part of one then by all means go ahead. If not in a journal, put it someplace you will see it, like on your refrigerator. You're experiencing happiness despite your depression, and you deserve to know about it.

1 comment:

Curiosity said...

I know I'm way out of date commenting on this post, but I was going through some of your archives and wanted to comment anyway... I was just reading a book about the brain in which they discussed how the part of your brain responsible for creating long term memories actually gets physically smaller when you're depressed as compared to "normal". Crazed. No wonder I can't remember what I came in here to do.