Everyone goes through a period of time when they are depressed for some reason or another. It only stands to reason that no one is happy and positive all of the time. Depression could be caused by the loss of a loved one or pet; after the losing their or money on the stock market; or they could become saddened by bad news they receive. Most people go through their “grief” period and bounce back - others can’t seem to do this without help.

Deep and long-lasting depression can be mind-numbing, and harmful for the person experiencing it as well as the people around them as they watch their loved one become listless, not wanting to join in activities they once enjoyed, and continue to become withdrawn and uncommunicative.

One of the main signs of depression is memory impairment. Recognizing the connection can be the first step toward treatment.

Scientists are looking into the connection between depression and memory, and how helping one could help the other. Through the use of brain imaging technology they are making headway in seeing this connection.

Memory is only one of many “executive” brain functions that can be harmed by depression. A person may have problems getting up off the coach, or begin a project. They can’t make a decision; make plans; or organizing their thoughts. They may say they want to do something, but when it comes time to become active they will change their minds. They can become reclusive.

The cause may be an imbalance in chemicals (neurotransmitters) that allow the brain cells to communicate with each other and store memories. This can cause the depressed person to pull forward false memories, or change in their minds what really happened.

According to professor of clinical psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School’s Norman Rosenthal, M.D., “A depressed person tends to recall mostly the negative, unhappy experiences. This can appear to family and friends as a loss of memory. It also reinforces the person's drab and negative view of life, fueling the depression.”

Depression hampers the ability to concentrate and form long-term memories. Constantine Lyketsos, M.D., director of neuropsychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, gives an example: “A depressed man agrees to meet a spouse or friend at a certain address. An hour later, he realizes he has "forgotten" the address. But perhaps due to a lack of attention and concentration - common for a person in a depressed mental state - he never really formed an enduring memory of the address in the first place.” This indicates a lack of coordination between the working and short-term memory and long-term memory.

“Imagine these forms of memory as a series of bins,” explains Lyketsos. “The working memory bin keeps track of events as they happen, but only for a short time. At a volleyball game, working memory registers your conscious experiences as you find a seat, eat, and watch the game.” Only a few of these activities will actually be stored in your memory - like a great play in the volleyball game. The rest of what you experienced or saw will fade away and eventually be deleted. The ones that remain will be sent off to be filed into your long-term memory.

“A depressed person,” according to Lyketsos, “may be too inattentive and unfocused to file passing events in short-term memory. In this case, it isn't so much that the depressed person has forgotten, but that the memory was never stored in the first place.”

Through brain imaging technology neuroscientists are able to "see" the connections between depression and memory. Many studies show brain-cell activity in the frontal lobes, at the front of the brain behind the forehead, often reduced in depressed people. One of the explanations for this may be due to a brain chemical called serotonin. Depressed people generally have decreased levels of serotonin, which regulates blood flow to nourish the cells. Serotonin also is involved in regulating arousal-the ability for a person to feel interested in or stimulated by normally pleasurable activities.

In order to conquer depression you have to recognize it. The second is to seek help. How do you know if you have depression?
§ Do you have difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions?
§ Have you lost interest in people or activities that you once enjoyed?
§ Have you changed your pattern of eating?
§ Are you restless, irritable and have trouble sleeping normally?
§ Are you tired all the time?
§ Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide, death or wanting to harm yourself?

If you have any of these symptoms, seek help immediately. Depression is highly treatable. Antidepressant drugs are used to boost the serotonin levels and stimulate arousal. Other medications can reduce the depression, while help from professional psychotherapists is always recommended. If you don’t know where to go, contact the National Alliance for the Mentally ill (NAMI) at http://www.nami.org; or call 800-950-NAMI for assistance in finding help near you.

Author's Bio: 

Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion, memory expert, and memory speaker. He speaks at seminars and to large groups all over the world on how to improve memory and memory techniques. Click to check out his memory improvement products.