Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled 

Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik
Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik

United States: Depressive symptoms are followed by a decline in memory in elderly people and, conversely, poor memory is followed by an increase in depressive symptoms, which became apparent as per a new study by the University College London (UCL) and Brighton Sussex Medical School. 

More about the study 

According to this study conducted in JAMA Network Open, the investigators evaluated 16 years of survey data of 8,268 English adults with a mean age of 64 years. 

Depression was determined to be associated with memory and appeared to ‘feed off’ each other. 

Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik
Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik

As a senior author, Dr. Dorina Cadar of the UCL Department of Behavioural Science & Health and Brighton and Sussex Medical School said: “It is known that depression and poor memory often occur together in older people, but what comes first has been unclear,” as neurosciencenews.com reported. 

“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

“It also suggests that interventions to reduce depressive symptoms may help to slow down memory decline,” the author added. 

Comments of experts on the finding 

According to the Lead author, Jiamin Yin, who graduated from UCL and is now a doctoral student at the University of Rochester, New York, 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.” 

Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik
Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik

“Conversely, it is also critical to address depressive symptoms among those with memory decline to protect them from developing depression and memory dysfunction,” he continued. 

How does Depression affect memory? 

The research team also postulated that since memories are stored in the brain and Depression is a known phenomenon that can cause changes in the brain, its negative effects on memory could be logically explained by such changes. 

Among these are abnormalities in the levels of serotonin and dopamine, alterations concerning the hippocampal formation and the prefrontal cortex estimated by voxel-based morphometry, and impairments in neural plasticity. 

The team pointed out that other causes of memory deficits could be such as psychological causes like rumination – a scenario that involves dwelling on thoughts, negative feelings or even repeatedly thinking about something. 

Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik
Vicious Cycle of Memory Loss and Depression in Elderly Unveiled. Credit | Freepik

In contrast, demo-organic causes, such as inability to memorize, confusion, and other related problems, lead to frustration, low self-esteem, and a sense of inefficiency, which are the chief causes of Depression. 

Memory deficit might also interfere with activities that enable a normal day to be completed or interactions with other people, thus resulting in isolation, which may cause Depression. 

According to Dr Cadar, “Depression can cause changes in brain structures, such as the hippocampus, which is critical for memory formation and retrieval. Chronic stress and high levels of cortisol associated with Depression can damage neurons in these areas,” as neurosciencenews.com reported. 

“However, a further understanding of mechanisms linking memory decline and depression is crucial for developing targeted interventions aimed at improving mood and slowing cognitive decline in individuals with depression and memory impairment,” Cedar added.