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Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? The Relationship Between Depression & Memory Loss

Memory issues, such as confusion or forgetfulness, have been connected to depression. Additionally, it might be challenging to concentrate on work or other tasks, come to decisions, or think clearly. Memory loss can also be a result of stress and anxiety. Keep reading to learn more about this condition and understand the treatments.


Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? Difference Between Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression. What is the difference between anxiety and depression? The main difference between depression and anxiety is:

  • In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.
  • The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to simply describe that feeling. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Periodic anxiety is a normal component of life, according to The National Institute on Mental Health. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as you can since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can actually worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder.
Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interferes with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.


Anxiety Symptoms

  • Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.
  • Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.
  • Whole body: fatigue or sweating
  • Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety and Depression Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

Can Depression Cause Memory Loss? Depression and Memory Loss

Why does depression cause memory loss? Memory issues, such as confusion or forgetfulness, have been connected to depression. Additionally, it could be challenging to concentrate on work or other duties, come to conclusions, or think effectively. Memory loss can also be a result of stress and anxiety.

Are memory loss with depression linked? Memory loss in the short term is connected to depression. Other types of memory, including procedural memory and long-term memory, which regulate motor skills, are unaffected.

Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? Additional indications of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, anxious, numb, or hopeless
  • A loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Having little energy and feeling fatigued
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Feeling shame, guilt, worthlessness, or powerlessness
  • A loss of appetite and drastic changes in weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Having physical problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, and back pain

Can Anxiety and Depression Cause Memory Loss? Memory Loss and Depression

Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? Memory loss from depression: In a 2013 study, researchers found that people with depression had trouble distinguishing between objects on a screen that were the same as or similar to ones they had previously seen. This shows that memory impairment may occur as a result of depression, say experts. A 2015 study by researchers reached a similar conclusion. They concluded that short-term memory loss could result from depression (depression and short-term memory loss).

Is Memory Loss a Symptom of Depression?

Is memory loss part of depression? Memory issues, such as confusion or forgetfulness, have been connected to depression. Additionally, it might be challenging to concentrate on work or other tasks, come to decisions, or think clearly. Memory loss can also be a result of stress and anxiety. Memory loss in the short term is connected to depression.

Does Depression Cause Long Term Memory Loss?

Does depression cause long-term memory loss? Short-term memory loss is a common concern for those with depression, but they also run the risk of developing long-term memory issues. Numerous studies, including one published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, have demonstrated how untreated depression sharply raises the chance of dementia. The risk of developing cognitive impairment increases fourfold in men and twice as much in women who have depressive disorders.

Does Depression Cause Memory Loss? In an intriguing study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, a group of scientists assessed memory and mood in 5,781 women 65 and older. 3.6% of the women exhibited six or more depressive symptoms at the beginning of the trial. But almost 93% of these depressed women were left untreated.

Four years later, the women underwent a follow-up exam, and the worse their cognitive scores were, the more their depressive symptoms worsened. Women who reported three to five depressive symptoms had a 60% higher risk of cognitive impairment, and those who reported six or more symptoms had a 230% higher risk of cognitive decline. Others claim that having depression later in life could be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Can Depression and Anxiety Cause Memory Loss?

Strong, enduring sensations of concern and fear, frequently about things and events you can’t change or control, are brought on by anxiety problems. When you have anxiety, you could discover that you are perpetually apprehensive and worried, unable to stop thinking about awful possible consequences. This anxious cycle can be very mentally taxing.

Many people discover that their memory suffers from this state of nearly continual stress and hypervigilance. Memory loss brought on by anxiety can make you feel more anxious because:

  • Are unable to recall key details at work or school
  • Forget things, like birthdays and other significant events, leading to tension or conflict in personal relationships
  • Have trouble remembering things that can make essential daily tasks, like driving, parenting, or cooking, easier (and safer)

How Depression and Anxiety Cause Memory Loss?

You won’t necessarily find yourself unable to recall key events in your life since anxiety generally affects working memory.

Instead, you might have difficulty remembering things like:

  • Task instructions
  • Directions to a friend’s house
  • A child’s play date
  • Conversations you had with others
  • Information in a textbook chapter you just studied

A few different factors play a part in anxiety-related memory loss:

Does Depression and Anxiety Cause Memory Loss? Elevated cortisol levels

Do you know what the stress hormone is? This moniker for cortisol comes from the role hormone plays in activating the fight-flight-freeze response in response to stress.

The proper dosage of this hormone can even aid in memory formation. It serves a number of significant purposes. This may assist to clarify why a little anxiety can really benefit memory enhancement.

On the other hand, too much cortisol may have the opposite effect. Since anxiety entails intense, recurrent worry about potential risks, it makes natural that those with chronic or severe anxiety tend to have greater cortisol levels. Your body may remain in a fight-flight-freeze response due to the ongoing stress you are under, ready to react to danger.

Depression and Anxiety Memory Loss: Lack of sleep

Depression memory loss: It can be difficult to obtain adequate deep sleep when you’re anxious. You might experience frequent awakenings or unsettling dreams if you’re not lying awake, replaying a cycle of worrying thoughts.

You may feel groggy, distracted, and unable to concentrate after a few nights of poor sleep, but you probably won’t suffer any serious health effects.

Memory loss is one of the serious health effects of chronic sleep deprivation. This is due to the fact that sleep is crucial for memory and overall brain health.

Depression Anxiety Memory Loss: Anxiety itself

If you struggle with anxiety, you are aware of how effective a distraction it can be. Your anxieties could dominate your thoughts to the extent that no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get away from them. Eventually, anxiety and anguish might start to play in the backdrop of your day. No matter what you do, you are simultaneously seeking to control and deal with your anxious thoughts.

Because anxiety keeps getting in the way, it is frequently more difficult to give your entire attention to what you want to focus on. Your brain starts prioritizing these potential dangers to keep you safe as you keep thinking about your worries and their causes.

As a result, additional information can start to become less noticeable. You can even begin to question whether there is a severe issue after you find you have forgotten some crucial details. And you can start to become fixated on those memories and focus on problems.

Minor amnesia incidents can happen to everyone, especially when they’re under stress, so stand out more and more. So, everyday forgetting serves as a further catalyst for nervous thoughts, feeding the cycle.

Depression and Short Term Memory Loss

Memory issues, such as confusion or forgetfulness, have been connected to depression. Additionally, it could be challenging to concentrate on work or other duties, come to conclusions, or think effectively. Memory loss can also be a result of stress and anxiety. Memory loss in the short term is connected to depression.

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Can Memory Loss From Depression Be Reversed?

As mentioned, depression is thought to have an impact on short-term memory loss. Memory problems usually go away once the underlying causes have been addressed.

A recent 2019 study discovered a potential cure for memory loss connected to aging and depression. Rapidly acting therapeutic compounds relieved symptoms and restored related brain abnormalities. The GABA system is the target of this single dose of molecules, which reverses memory losses swiftly.

Of course, how depression and anxiety affect a person varies from person to person. This subject is quite complicated because a wide variety of factors can result in memory loss. Memory loss can be brought on by a variety of factors, including stress, grief, drug use, and lack of sleep.

Note that every case is different. If depression is the main factor causing your memory loss, treating your depressive symptoms will also take care of your memory problems. However, if there are multiple underlying causes, your treatment plan may be more challenging to complete in terms of getting rid of memory-related symptoms. You can develop a personalized plan that works for you by collaborating with a qualified healthcare team.

When it comes to depression and generalized anxiety disorder, one clear similarity is the way they are treated.
Memory loss depression: When it comes to depression and generalized anxiety disorder, one clear similarity is the way they are treated.

Depression Can Cause Memory Loss but What Are Other Causes?

Other reasons you may experience memory loss can include the following:

  • Normal age-related memory loss is common and manageable. One example of this is forgetting where you put your glasses but remembering later in the day.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It can cause progressive, irreparable brain damage and memory loss.
  • Mild cognitive impairment can alter thinking skills and eventually progress to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
  • Minor head injuries or trauma can trigger slight memory problems, even if you didn’t lose consciousness.
  • Forgetfulness is a potential side effect of certain medications.
  • Brain tumors or brain infections can affect your memory or trigger dementia-like symptoms.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency can create problems with your memory. This is because you’re not maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse can impair your mental state and abilities. This can also occur when alcohol interacts with medications.
  • Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism, which can lead to memory problems and other issues with thinking.
  • Brain or nerve damage caused by diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis can cause memory problems. A 2013 study found that people with depression have a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Memory loss is a side effect of electroconvulsive treatment (ECT). The effects of depression and other mental diseases can be reversed thanks to ECT’s alteration of brain chemistry. If you need ECT, your doctor will administer it while you are unconscious. Your doctor causes a brief seizure in your brain during an ECT procedure by passing tiny electric currents through it. After receiving ECT treatments, people may experience confusion and short-term memory loss.

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We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The exact definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions.  However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time.

Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse. Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success. 

A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment.

At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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