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The Effect of Depression on Memory and Learning E-mail



The goal of this website is to give support to people who are feeling depressed and unhappy with their lives. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I have a background in neuroscience and behavioral sciences and I am currently doing brain research in university in my home country. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.



Depression, memory and learning

Chronic stress often leads to depression. Prolonged depression has been shown in several studies to have an adverse effect on memory and learning. During a short term stress adrenaline is being released in the brain, increasing individual's energy level and hence helping one to perform better on short term basis. Short term stress and related increase in adrenaline level do not have an adverse effect on body. Long term stress, in turn, has been shown to have a very different physiological effect.

Depression, cortisol and hippocampus

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that has a suppressing effect on immune system. Cortisol is widely used as immunosuppressive drug to treat various severe allergic reactions, rashes and inflammatory skin conditions. Prolonged stress has been shown to increase physiological cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol have been shown to have many harmful effects on the body. Some of the most serious consequences of prolonged stress are difficulties in learning and impaired memory functions.

Hippocampus is a structure in the brain that is crucial for learning and formation of new memories. Cortisol has been shown to cause population deaths of neurons in hippocampus. As a result of this neuronal atrophy, the size of hippocampus has been decreased in people who are suffering of chronic stress and depression. Good news is that this situation can be reversed when one recovers from depression.

Memory impairment and learning difficulties can be reversed

When chronic stress ends and cortisol level goes down, the size of hippocampus starts to increase. As a result of this, memory starts to improve and it is easier to focus and learn new things. It is never too late to change one's life and take necessary actions to remove the factors that are causing depression. Many things in life can trigger depression. Prolonged problems at work or in personal life are common triggers for depression.

The most important thing is to identify the factors that are causing depression and then remove them from one's life. It is often difficult to take the necessary steps to remove the factors that are responsible of depression. A depressed person is often so tired and out of energy that it is hard to make big changes in one's life. Recovery from depression begins with small steps. In order to recover it is important to understand what depression is all about. The purpose of this website is to offer information and support for people who are feeling depressed and unhappy with their life.


To read more, please see sections Depression - General and Depression - Science.

Comments (4)
  • Tammy  - In over my head
    :( I've been battling bad depression for sometime now as I lost a brother to suicide. About the last 4/6 months I've noticed I don't retain anything anyone tells me and I'm forgetful of everything. I do have a muscle disorder which is very painful. I can go weeks without a shower getting out of bed or really eating and staying hydrated. I did not realize depression would have this effect on you're memory, it's very scary. My husband laughs because I'll mention something that has to be done in a week and I'm freaking out thinking we forgot to pay it. One thing is I have found when I go to the psychiatrist I'm gonna do family counseling as well for my husband and 3 boys, they don't understand why I can't get up and just go like they can. I have horrible mood swings and sometimes feel like I could throw something, punch a wall or something. But I want my family to understand some peoples brains don't work like others and I never mean to hurt them mentally when I don't go to a base ball game or soccer game. I just need help I feel like this may be bipolar depression but I don't have an appointment until may. I thought about going in the hospital but not sure I can handle being away from my own home. Sorry this was so long but I wanted to share a bit about my life!
  • Anonymous
    ^did you recover?
  • IRC  - Depression
    I had a bout of the flu and was unable to eat or drink without being sick. I then could not sleep and after a few days, of this began to have feelings of anger, loneliness and despair, as time went on and after 4 or 5 nights without sleep and food and water, I began to believe it was best if I was dead, I then planned it all, down to the last detail and when I intended to complete it. The pain, the feelings of desolation and the overwhelming despair where unbelievable. Luckily It was noticed, and following the intervention of my GP and an Emergency team, I was soon on the road to recovery. However I have little or no recollection of my words or actions during that period, just the emotions of despair, and some 3 weeks later I have stopped trying to get them back.
  • MK  - depressed
    I definitely experienced memory problems when I was depressed, there were times when I was practically unable to absorb new information and it was pretty bad because I was student at the time and I was supposed to take all sorts of exams but just could not concentrate on studying at all, I could read the same chapter over and over again and still not remember anything about it after five minutes. Perhaps the problem was caused by my inability to concentrate rather than ability to actually memorize new things, who knows. Regardless of what caused it, the consequence was that I could not perform well, and of course that led to deeper depression. It is a vicious cycle.
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