Depression and memory loss are a big problem for me, and I know many other people experience this. Alongside the memory loss, I also have poor cognitive skills, which only exacerbates the memory loss. I want to run through why this occurs and what action can help those who experience it.
The first thing we need to consider is why depression would affect your memory? It is not all our memories; for instance, there is no shortage of bad memories; they have little trouble in the surfacing. It seems to be short term memory, like where we left the car keys or where we put such and such.
It can also affect how we view a memory; depression can even taint those good memories. The strange thing is that not much is known about why those who experience depression have a problem with their memory. There is countless research regarding it but not much in the way of an answer.
What About Corticosteroids?
Corticosteroids are thought to impact poor memory within those who suffer from depression, and you may be wondering what on earth they are. When someone is depressed, they might be exposed to high levels of corticosteroids which are meant to reduce inflammation; however, in a person with depression, this natural chemical in our system adversely affects the hippocampus in our brain. This is according to research carried out on animals, gross, I know.
However, it is only a theory and according to a study in 2013 and 2015, to read the full medical papers visit the website NCBI:
Studies in human depression yield more equivocal results, though evidence generally supports the theory of volumetric shrinkage of the hippocampal complex in individuals suffering from depression.MacQueen & Frodl 2013; Fried & Kievit, 2015
So What Can We Do About Depression and Memory Loss?
If your depression is mild, situational or seasonal affective, then all of the suggestions I will outline should have a benefit to you. However, if your depression is severe or bipolar related, then the last couple of suggestions will be of most benefit.
I want to stress, I am not a doctor, and anything I suggest is based on my own personal experience, not through medical or psychological means. Although if I have used information from scholarly articles, I will link to further research.
So let’s begin.
Cut out sugar, easier said than done, but sugar can impact your brain size. I used to take a lot of sugar in my teas and coffees and have stopped consuming the sugar in this form. If I want something sweet, I will eat a few chunks of dark chocolate, which can help my serotonin levels.
The study which showed how sugar could decrease brain volume was based on Alzehmeir and Dementia research; you can find the study in a back issue of their journal here.
You will also want to avoid sweetener too. According to another study, this also has a similar impact on the brain; switching from sugar-laden fizzy drinks to artificially sweetened pop can increase the risk of dementia and stroke by up to 3 times.
You can read a down to earth article in Forbes Magazine about it.
I’m intending to decrease my sugar intake even more by cutting out heavily laden biscuits, it is going to be tough, but anything to stop the decrease in my memory is worth it. But there is no way I’m giving up chocolate.
I have recently introduced krill oil supplements into my daily vitamins and minerals. As you may or may not be aware, I don’t diet; I listen to what my body says; you can read my article about this here. My body suddenly started to crave fish oil, so I tried a tuna sandwich, but that was not cutting it.
A thought popped into my head about a study I read on fish oils, so I bought a tub of Krill Oil from Piping Rock, my go-to vitamin and supplement store.
I must admit it is still early days to say the impact of the krill oil but the research states:
The fish oil group showed significant improvement in short-term and working memory…The 12-month change in memory was significantly better in the fish oil group. Fish oil consumption was well tolerated, and the side effects were minimal and self-limiting.Pubmed
So I am hopeful taking the krill oil will impact it; I will write about it if it does or doesn’t. Don’t forget to visit [AF] Piping Rock to pick your good value and quality fish oil up. They deliver to the UK, USA, Canada and many other places.
Vitamin D Levels
I have to have my vitamin d levels checked every six months as, for some reason, my body does not store vitamin d very well. I’m fine in the summer, but as soon as the shorter days hit, my vitamin d levels plummet, and I have to take vitamin d capsules, around 10,000iu.
Get your levels checked as not only can low vitamin d be a cause of your depression, it can also be the reason for your memory loss.
A study on Pubmed again shows that it can impact the function of your brain, but it is unclear if taking supplements will regain what you have lost.
Low VitD status was associated with accelerated decline in cognitive function domains in ethnically diverse older adults, including African American and Hispanic individuals who exhibited a high prevalence of VitD insufficiency or deficiency. It remains to be determined whether VitD supplementation slows cognitive decline.Pubmed
The research also states it is unclear if it will stop the decline, but a lack of vitamin d can cause depression, which means you need to get your levels checked.
[AF] Once again you can buy vitamin d from Piping Rock, here is the link to the one I use.
Stress and the Impact on Depression and Memory Loss
I have found through my own experience when I am too stressed; my memory becomes worse. Remaining stress-free is something of an ideal; in our world, where we are at the whims and fancies of everyone, we live in a high-level stress bubble.
Along with the recent emergence of the coronavirus, stress has never been such a problem for many of us.
When we are stressed, we produce a lot of cortisol, and if our body is swimming in our built-in protection system, you know the fight or flight chemical. Then our memory suffers.
I have written several articles on how to manage stress and anxiety and you can find them here.
As someone with bipolar disorder, it is vitally important for me to remain as calm as possible throughout the day and to live in the moment is one way I do this. I know how to achieve this quickly through meditation, but some people find the idea not suitable to them. I fully understand; it did not appeal to me until I tried it several times, and now, it is my go-to thing.
There is every reason to try these suggestions along with the other articles I have written. You may find with all of them combined, your memory improves. I hope it does and if you have further suggestions, leave them in the comments below to help other people.
Peace & Blessings