Loss of memory and an impaired thinking are often considered part of the aging process. Hence, along with the wrinkled skin and deteriorating bodily functions, fluctuating memories are also accepted as a natural outcome of aging. However, according to a recent study, published in Neurology in May 2018, impaired memory and thinking in elderly people could be a result of underlying depression.
According to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, older adults having severe symptoms of depression were more likely to have a structural difference in the brain, which affected their memory, compared to people without any depressive symptoms. The researchers observed 1,111 people, majorly Caribbean Hispanic, with an average age of 71 years. Essentially, all these people were stroke-free and had their brain scans, memory and thinking skills assessed and a psychological exam conducted at the beginning of the trial.
The tests revealed that 22 percent of the participants had major symptoms of depression. They were flagged as being at a higher risk for developing clinical depression. However, after testing their memory and thinking skills again, at an average of five years later, the researchers found that major symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory (which is the ability to remember particular events and experiences).
Besides, the researchers also noticed a difference in the brain of the people with major symptoms of depression. These people were found to have smaller brain volume and a 55 percent greater chance of small vascular lesions in the brain. Small vascular lesions in the brain indicate a condition called small vessel disease, in which the walls in the small blood vessels are damaged. “Greater symptoms of depression may affect brain health through small vessel disease,” said Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, lead author of the study.
Link between depression and memory loss
Older adults are often ignored and neglected. They are generally dependent and are therefore, treated as a burden because of their deteriorating physical and mental health, impaired memory and affected thinking abilities. The feeling of loneliness can trigger depression in them.
Depression among elderly is as hazardous as it in teenagers or adults. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Texas identified that depression can impair memory function in the elderly and people in general. According to the study, negative thoughts initiated during depression, hindered an individual’s ability to think and concentrate.
According to another study, conducted by the Brigham Young University, memory loss during depression occurs due to damage in a process called ‘pattern separation’. The process is primarily the ability that helps an individual differentiate between similar things. As a result, depression leads to impairment in distinguishing ability, thereby resulting in an increased difficulty in recalling events.
Improve life by treating depression
Depression is a severe mental disorder. While untreated depression can lead to a myriad of health issues, it can also trigger suicidal ideation. Therefore, recovering from the mental illness is important to ensure a healthy life. Complete recovery from depression can be achieved with medical intervention.
Medical treatment for depression includes medications, therapies or a combination of both. Further, an individual can opt between outpatient and inpatient mental health treatment centers. However, the latter is preferred because it offers a holistic treatment process amidst a home-like environment.
If you or a loved one is battling depression and you are looking for a reliable center for mental health treatment contact Sovereign Health Group Mental Health Services. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 to connect with the finest inpatient mental health treatment centers in the U.S. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.