How Depression and Anxiety Can Impact Your Memory

It is a given fact that some people have a better memory than others. Many of us are even worried about improving our memory. There are many things that play into how well people remember things. One of those is our mental health which can have either specific or more broad impacts on memory function. Those who suffer from depression and anxiety will often have some form of poor memory function. Depression and anxiety can have different effects on memory. Those effects can also differ from person to person. Being able to understand your mental health and how it can impact your memory is important in order to know how to improve your well-being.

How Does Depression Effect Memory?

It has been thought that depression mainly has a negative effect on short-term memory and prospective memory. Short-term memory is the information that an individual is currently thinking about or is aware of. It includes events that have happened over a period of anywhere from 30 seconds to several days. Prospective memory involves remembering to perform an action that is planned or recall a planned intention at some future point in time. These tasks are common in everyday life and can range from something simple to something extreme.

Common symptoms of depression include trouble focusing on tasks, confusion, and forgetfulness. In-depth research has shown that memory loss is linked to depression, especially short-term memory. Research has also shown that depressed individuals have a hard time recognizing things that were just presented to them. Research has also shown that individuals who suffer from depression have a difficult time remembering finer details of events. They may remember the event as a whole but cannot remember specific incidences within that event. Prospective memory is also weakened when an individual is depressed. The individual may forget something as simple as picking up a prescription or washing the dishes. When depressed, an individual may become a lot more forgetful of these kinds of tasks.

Research has recently shown that non-depressed individuals are usually able to remember positive events easier than negative ones, whereas depressed individuals tend to remember the negative events easier.

Scientists have taken a closer look at the areas of the brain that may be associated with these conditions. They suggest that the hippocampus, the area of the brain that deals with learning and memory, is smaller in individuals who suffer from depression than those that don’t. This is not necessarily the one and only reason why memory function is poorer in individuals who are depressed, but just one factor that describes why depression impact how well someone remembers certain things.

How Does Anxiety Effect Memory?

Anxiety has been linked to the weakening of the working memory. The working memory has a limited capacity that can hold information temporarily. It is vital for reasoning and the guidance of decision-making behavior. Working memory focuses on memory-in-action and the ability to remember and use information while in the middle of doing something. For example, when someone recalls the steps of a recipe while baking.

Research has been consistent in showing that individuals who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder experience working memory loss. The body’s stress response occurs as a result of anxiety. When anxiety sets in, it increases the electrical activity in the brain and sends out adrenaline into the body as a response to fear or threats. This expends the body’s resources and causes other bodily functions, such as memory, suffer.

When anxiety affects your working memory, you tend to make more mistakes and be more forgetful. Individuals who experience anxiety may experience some of the following.

  • Repeating yourself because you can’t remember if you’ve already said it

  • Forgetting directions

  • Losing items you always keep with you such as keys

  • Forgetting where you parked

Here at GatewayTMS we care about the health and well-being of our clients and treat everyone with compassion. If you or a loved one suffers from depression and would like to try TMS as an alternative to anti-depressants, contact our staff today at (314) 909-8487 so we can help you get on the road to improving your mental health.