Link between memory loss and mood disorders

Megan Keane, Columnist

Within the last decade or so, lots of research has come out drawing a correlation between depression, anxiety, and short-term memory loss.

Of course, this isn’t the case with everyone’s depression. Everyone experiences everything differently, etcetera, etcetera.

Not to worry that you’re not depressed if you don’t experience some sort of memory malfunction—if you’re even considering you’re depressed, there’s a good chance you might be. I’m not sure that there’s a statistic for that, but from personal experience, I’ve found that to be true.

Who isn’t a little bit something nowadays, anyway?

Some research has drawn a link between depression and difficulties with emotional information retrieval. This is really problematic because, if you don’t know, most of the diagnoses of mental disorders rely on a patient’s self-report.

And important thing to remember about memory, in general: Your memory is never a reliable source. I can’t say it enough.

My little brother swears he has memories of when he was a baby, but that is scientifically not possible; he’s just heard the stories so many times; his brain has probably conjured up a false memory in his head. Can I convince him otherwise? No. He’s got a great memory, so he claims. A great memory is a myth—or a rarity at the very least.

An ample amount of studies have found that people suffering with depression, anxiety or both tend to impose negative emotions where they may not actually recall any emotion at all. These links that are being uncovered are crucial to the way people are being diagnosed and how clinicians decide to carry out treatment. If somebody is depressed or anxious a lot, while they may not clearly remember, they may assume that they’ve been in a heightened depressive/anxious state in a case where that may not be true. This can lead to a lot of problems.

Before I was diagnosed with anything—and especially before I decided to take medicine for anything—I maintained a baseline of panic and sad. All the time. And so, if I was ever asked (in a clinical setting) how I’d been feeling over the past couple of weeks/months/years, I was prone to answer Very Anxious and Very Sad. Though, I probably had some all right days, those don’t stick out to be in the overwhelming bad.

Since I’ve been medicated, however, I can tell you I’ve been experiencing a baseline of, what I would personally consider, a good mood. The last time I remember being in a good mood for a long length of time was probably my sophomore year in high school, and I can’t tell you why that was.

Of course, with as much research as there is in support of this correlation, there’s also ample amount of research that fails to find a link between emotional information retrieval and mood disorders. In my case, I’ve found it to be true. If you’re experiencing any sort of memory loss, it’d be the best to make an appointment with your doctor to figure that out as there are lots of other causes for memory loss.

Megan Keane is a senior English and psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].