Depression Can Accelerate Memory Loss In The Elderly

Depression and memory were closely linked, and both seemed to influence each other, a new study shows.

Depressive symptoms in the elderly are linked to poorer memory. In the same way, poor memory is also connected to depressive symptoms.

Influence each other

Over 16 years, the researchers followed more than 8,200 people with an average age of 64.

They concluded that depression and memory were closely related and that both seemed to influence each other.

Dorina Cadar at the UCL Department of Behavioral Science & Health is one of the study’s authors. She says that it is well known that depression and poor memory often operate together in older people, but that it has been unclear how this affects each other.

– Our study shows that the relationship between depression and poor memory is connected – both ways. Depressive symptoms are linked to poorer memory, while poorer memory is linked to depressive symptoms, she says in a news release from the UCL Department of Behavioral Science & Health 2.

The results also suggest that if one takes measures to reduce depressive symptoms, this can help to retain a good memory.

Changes in the brain

The researchers propose an explanation for the findings. They believe that depression creates changes in the brain and thus affects memory in that way.

These include changes related to lower serotonin and dopamine levels and changes in parts of the brain that process memories.

That memory failure can affect depressive symptoms is explained as follows: memory failure can occur due to psychological factors – such as negative emotions and repetitive thoughts.

If you experience that your memory fails and that you struggle to take in new information, this can lead to frustration, low self-esteem, and a feeling of not being able to do enough – which in turn can trigger depressive thoughts.

Memory failure can also lead to people not functioning as well in everyday life and social situations. We know that social isolation can trigger depressive symptoms.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this is an observational study. Although the researchers have taken into account several factors that may have influenced the results – such as physical activity and illness – the connection between depression and memory cannot be determined.