In 2004 Mary-Lynne Blazzard’s vision changed and after a battery of tests, her doctor diagnosed her with MS. She was devastated and in disbelief. After a second opinion confirmed the diagnosis, she started a treatment plan that involved daily injections. “Not only did I not want the diagnosis,” she recalled. “I didn’t want the treatment.” …Blazzard and her family then moved to a new city and she fell into a spiral of depression. There were days when she wouldn’t leave the house or pick up her kids from school. “I wasn’t participating in life anymore,” she said. – Except from “Stanford Multiple Sclerosis Clinic: Mary-Lynne Blazzard’s Story”: Click here for full story.

If you have ever experienced depression, or periods of low mood, did you also notice it was more difficult to think clearly during these periods? In fact, one of the symptoms of depression is difficulty concentrating.  Depression slows us, and our minds down. Thinking can become effortful. It can sap mental motivation.

Objectively, studies have shown that people with depression have more difficulty with brain speed, attention, learning, memory, and problem solving.

But that is not all.

Depression is also associated with changes in structures of the brain. Some studies demonstrate atrophy (cell loss) in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain in people with depression, in comparison to non-depressed individuals.  The temporal lobes are generally thought to be responsible for learning or remembering objects, people, words, or information.  Frontal areas of the brain are typically thought to control high level thinking such as problem solving, emotional control, and maintaining attention.

The good news is that treatment, including anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy – such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help reverse these symptoms.

Are you wondering if depression might be causing, or contributing to your difficulty with memory? Take the two item quiz below.

*Remember this quiz is not a substitue for medical advice. It is not a diagnostic tool. It is for educational purposes. If you have any questions or concerns about your memory or depression symptoms please discuss them with your medical provider, or in case of emergency, visit your closest emergency department.