Not everyone understands what being depressed really means. We may all feel down after a sad or stressful event, saying we feel depressed. And this kind of depression may last for a few days, but we eventually muster up our strength and get back to functioning normally.
However, the most concerning type of depression is one that lasts for lengthy periods and affects our quality of life greatly. And research has shown that its adverse effects on our ability to think cannot be reversed even with antidepressants.
Depression can severely impair your memory and attention, and it affects the way you process information and make decisions, impairing your decision-making skills.
The cognitive flexibility is also under attack, which means that in this state, you will find it harder to adapt your goals and strategies to changing situations. And finally, being depressed means that you’ll lack the ability to take all the steps to get something done, as depression affects your executive functioning.
In short, depression can ruin an individual’s mind and it’s not something that should be taken lightly.
Perhaps the most concerning find about its effects is that antidepressants can’t reverse the impact depression has on our ability to think.
As Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School James Catherine, Ph.D. explains, antidepressants can help the individual with their mood and energy, their motivation, and their sleeping and eating patterns. But according to a new study, that’s where their effect stops.
In the study, 1,000 people suffering from depression have been put through extensive cognitive testing to see if the antidepressants they are taking helped with the improvement of any of the cognitive impairments from depression.
The results showed that 95% of the participants showed no improvement whatsoever, which points to the need for additional effort on behalf of the person suffering from depression.
Catherine doesn’t find the results completely surprising, though, explaining that the antidepressants are made to improve the person’s mood and be able to participate in beneficial and enjoyable activities.
However, cognitive and emotional functioning take place in different parts and processes of the brain, which explains why the antidepressants didn’t have an effect on the cognitive symptoms, he notes.
How to get your cognitive abilities back
The finds don’t mean that you should stop taking antidepressants – on the contrary, they only add to the fact that closing yourself off in your room while on antidepressants won’t help you much.
Especially when considering the cognitive function, taking additional steps to improve it is paramount.
Catherine recommends several approaches that can help reverse the damage depression causes to our ability to think:
– Problem-solving treatment – that can train you on how to improve your problem-solving skills;
– Cognitive behavioral therapy – that can teach you how to recognize and challenge distorted thinking patterns;
– Cognitive remediation therapy – that uses practice drills to improve executive functioning and memory;
“Combining these behavioral interventions with antidepressants may yield better results for improving depression-related cognitive impairments,” he notes.
However, you should never consider stopping any of the medications on your own before talking to your doctor. Avoiding treatment for depression can have severe consequences, and even if you feel like you should stop using antidepressants, asking your doctor for advice and instruction is paramount.
Depression can be debilitating, both emotionally and mentally. However, you should never give up the fight and you should know that you’re not alone. Get out of your room and be around the people who love you and mean you well. There is a way out of it, and you have the power to get out – never forget that.
Source: Harvard Health Publishing