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depression memory loss, cognition, brain health

Can Depression Cause Memory Loss?

By Simon Spichak, MSc | May 10th, 2022

Trouble remembering things? Similar to Alzheimer’s, depression can cause memory loss.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 280 million people worldwide live with depression. Despite being one of the most common disorders, it is still difficult to treat or cure. That’s especially problematic, because depression isn’t just an illness in itself — depression can speed up brain aging, while also increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

How does depression affect memory?

Depression impairs working memory — a process that keeps important short-term information handy. It is what helps you hold directions in your mind as you try to navigate toward a destination. This form of memory loss leads to cognitive impairment in as many as three in five people diagnosed with depression. 

How serious is memory loss in depression?

Similar to many other complex diseases, the severity of this symptom varies from person-to-person. People who have more severe or recurrent forms of depression are more likely to experience serious forms of memory loss. However, even after the depression symptoms are resolved — memory impairments persist

What’s the link between depression and Alzheimer’s?

It is unclear whether this form of memory loss directly impacts the development of Alzheimer’s disease. But treating the symptoms of depression reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

Why is it important to seek treatment for depression?

Researchers are currently investigating whether drugs used to treat depression could also help people with Alzheimer’s. Currently, several antidepressants such as citalopram and escitalopram are being investigated in Phase 3 clinical trials for treating behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease — such as agitation and depression. 

If you are experiencing memory problems, other symptoms of depression or cognitive impairment, please speak with your doctor. 

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