Depression Impacts Memory in Aging Adults

Depression Impacts Memory in Aging Adults
Depression Impacts Memory in Aging Adults. Credit | Adobe Stock

United States – Recent studies have now indicated there may be a correlation between depression and impaired memory among older individuals.

Implications for Treatment

“Our study shows that the relationship between depression and poor memory cuts both ways, with depressive symptoms preceding memory decline and memory decline linked to subsequent depressive symptoms,” said senior study author Dr. Dorina Cadar of University College London, as reported by HealthDay.

The study implies that treatment of depression, which is still a recipient of adequate care, could avert the decline of memory as one age, she noted in the university’s news bulletin.

The latest data is derived from a study conducted on the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, in which respondents are followed up via questionnaires every two years.

Study Details

In this sample, survey data were gathered from nearly 8300 adults, with a mean age of 64, for 16 years.

However, while memory and depression were strongly correlated, there was no marked correlation between depression and another measure of brain function, verbal fluency.


Cadar, a research fellow in dementia at the University College London, said that it is not shocking that the fight against depression may lead to memory deterioration.

“Depression can cause changes in the structure of the brain , such as the hippocampus, which is critical for memory formation and retrieval,” she explained. “Chronic stress and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol associated with depression can damage neurons in these areas.”

Brain Chemistry and Depression

The researchers also stated that depression interfered with Serotonin and Dopamine levels accumilated in the brain and damaged the ability of the brain to rewire itself to important connections.

Memory issues could also be related to the fact in depression that, one always tends to overassume or dwell on things or feel a certain way.

On the other hand, it may mean spending an entire life having to cope with memory failures, and this may cause feelings of insecurity, frustration, and other feelings that can lead to the onset of depressive episodes, Cadar and her team suggested. Such troubles may also result in an increased tendency towards social isolation as well.

Monitoring and Early Intervention

“These findings underscore the importance of monitoring memory changes in older adults with increasing depressive symptoms to identify memory loss early and prevent further worsening of depressive function,” said study lead author Jiamin Yin, who has since graduated from UCL and is now a doctoral student at the University of Rochester in New York, as reported by HealthDay.

Thus, when one is able to become depressed, then the symptoms have to be ‘treated’ to ensure that people do not get depressed and develop memory problems, as Yin noted.