With how depression is the most common mental disorder the elderly experience, and how approximately 40% of aged individuals face age-associated memory impairment, the sufferers of both of these problems are bound to overlap. Depression is a complex, serious diagnosis that impairs various parts of functioning in older adults, including memory. By learning more about the relationship between depression and memory loss, you can enhance your loved one suffering from either issue to tackle their problem proactively to enjoy a more peaceful requirement.
Depression and Memory
Depression has been shown to have a negative impact on different types of memories, many suffering from depression struggle to recall memories that fell under the declarative and autobiographical memory types during studies. Furthermore, depressive patients have been shown to perform poorly in pattern separation tests, indicating that they are less able to encode memories of similar events and other stimuli. This occurs in instances such as when an older adult becomes confused or cannot recall when asked where they’ve been.
Depression Causing Short-Term Memory Loss
Depression has been suspected to contribute to short-term memory loss, with studies reporting how participants with more severe depression symptoms were more likely to have memory complaints. Furthermore, individuals with depression also experience cognitive performance issues with attention and memory. To make things more concerning, such memory-related issues can last even after treatment and recovery from depression.
Depression and Dementia
While the link between depression and dementia, a typically memory-impairing condition that becomes more common with age, requires more investigation to be fully defined, there is some substance to this relationship between the two illnesses. Cognitive impairments that depressive older adults struggle with are also known to be warning signs of dementia. Hence, it’s no surprise that depression in the elderly can frequently be misdiagnosed as dementia due to the similarity of the symptoms involved.
Antidepressants and Memory Loss
Studies have noted a significant link between memory loss and antidepressants, a popular method of treatment for depression. Specifically, people have been shown to experience memory issues such as decline after taking medications that relieve depression such as tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Not only do the side effects include memory impairment, but also difficulty concentrating.
Managing Memory Loss and Depression
Very little research has gone into treatments for memory loss in depressive individuals. For some individuals, curing their depression can cure their memory loss problem too. The most effective method to manage an older adult’s depression and memory loss would be to have a healthcare provider readily available for appointments to discuss treatment methods specific to the situation and help to track and analyze changes in themselves over time. Furthermore, a supportive network of family and friends is always extra helpful to motivate and encourage your loved one through the recovery process.
Our retirement community believes that cognitive health shouldn’t be an obstacle for your loved ones to enjoy their retirement years. Our memory care program ensures a safe, fulfilling, and fun daily routine in your loved one’s golden years. To learn more, read up on our senior living options!