Cognitive Neuroscience

How can depression affect your short-term memory?
Answered by Discovery Fit & Health
  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. One symptom of depression is the inability to concentrate. Depression causes an increased amount of cortisol in the bloodstream, which shrinks certain areas of the brain. One of the main areas in the brain affected by cortisol is the hippocampus, which is responsible for short-term memory. Therefore, a depressed person has difficulty remembering new information. In addition, neurological studies have shown that depressed people can only remember negative memories, causing them to remain depressed even longer.

    It's helpful for those suffering with depression, and its nagging side effects like short-term memory difficulty, to understand a bit about what it is. Depression is a mood disorder that affects people in different ways and for different reasons. For some people, there is a genetic element to mood disorders, but biochemical and psychological factors also have been found to cause depression and other mood disorders. Excess brain chemicals called neurotransmitters have been found in the brains of people diagnosed with depression. This chemical imbalance has an effect on the "messages" sent between the brain and the body. Other people, meanwhile, may develop depression because they already have low self-esteem or are pessimistic. Certain stress-inducing environmental and life situations, such as job loss or divorce, might contribute to the onset of depression.

    Men, women and children all can be diagnosed with depression, but not necessarily in the same way. At least one in eight teenagers, one in 33 children and one in 10 adults experience major depression, also called clinical depression [source: Mental Health America]. To be diagnosed with depression, you must first be willing to admit that you may have a mood disorder. Women are more likely than men to acknowledge symptoms of depression, and are twice as likely to experience them. Americans in general are more willing to admit to mood disorders than people in other countries and accept that depression is a disease that must be diagnosed and treated.

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