home
RSS
June 21st, 2011
10:23 AM ET

Can depression cause inability to focus?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Asked by Rachel from Southern California

I am a college student, recently diagnosed with depression, and am taking steps to figure out if I have ADHD because of a tremendous inability to focus and retain information. It is almost like, when I'm trying to focus on something someone says, it slips right through me like water.

I am curious to know what prospects I have of gaining my cognitive abilities back if I start taking Lexapro or other antidepressants. If these are going to impair my ability to concentrate and focus even more, then I am not sure how to weigh the cost-benefits of taking them, because I am in school.

In short, are antidepressants more helpful or hurtful to my cognitive functions? Can I look forward to reversing the concentration and memory retention problems I am currently undergoing?

Expert answer

I am very sorry to hear about your situation. College is tough enough without having to struggle with depression.

When most people think of depression, the first things that come to mind are sadness, a loss of enjoyment in life, and perhaps that great dark sense of foreboding and fear that so often accompany the disorder.

And while these are all very painful, and central, parts of the condition, other symptoms of depression can be at least as damaging, and you are struggling with one of those: trouble concentrating.

So the first thing you should know is that the problems with focusing and remembering that you are experiencing are classic depressive symptoms and therefore may not be indicative of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

It's pretty easy to figure this one out. Did you always have trouble concentrating and remembering things? If you can clearly answer yes to this, then you may have ADHD that preceded your depression. This would not be surprising - it appears that ADHD in childhood is a risk factor for a variety of psychiatric disorders in adulthood.

On the other hand, if your problems with concentration and memory only began with the start of your depression, then they are almost certainly depressive symptoms that will resolve when your depression is fully treated.

Let me answer your question about Lexapro (escitalopram) by assuming that your memory and focus problems are symptoms of your depression and not related to any pre-existing ADHD.

In this case the surest way to resolve these issues is to get rid of your depression, and to do so as quickly as possible. If you take Lexapro and it resolves the depression, it will also greatly improve your ability to focus and remember things.

Note that this does not appear to be a direct effect of the antidepressant, but rather results when the antidepressant resolves the depression.

Antidepressants don't improve memory or concentration, per se. But anything that makes your depression go away will fix your cognitive difficulties precisely because they are part of the depression.

A final comment: Don't forget that antidepressants are not your only option. Many studies show that certain types of psychotherapy (including cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral activation and interpersonal psychotherapy) work as well as antidepressants.


soundoff (839 Responses)
  1. Social Media Marketing Businesses

    I love it when people get together and share views. Great website, continue the good work!

    http://www.internets.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Windshield Repair Near Me

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your site!

    http://www.ekademia.pl/exit.php?url=http://ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Social Media Marketing Near Me

    https://www.thecreekwithin.us/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Google Marketing Company

    https://mobilemassage.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Repair Near Here

    Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    http://www.califa.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Pur Vape And Smoke

    Has anyone ever been to Valley Vapors? 😉

    https://maps.google.gg/url?q=https://allueur.com/products/luxury-cbd-vitamin-c-face-serum

    June 23, 2021 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Content Marketing Services

    I enjoy reading through an article that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    https://www.razinskiy.com/forum/away.php?s=consciousgrowthmarketing.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Internet Marketing Agency Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS. I donít know why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    http://fromthepaddock.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Chassis Repair Near Me

    http://foreverygirl.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.biz/

    June 23, 2021 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Local Marketing Consultants

    http://www.sagerobbins.tc/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=gomode.tv

    June 23, 2021 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Florinda

    can i grow hemp in california after farm bill 2018

    https://valetinowiki.racing/wiki/Some_Twin_Cities_Artists_Are_Attempting_To_Money_In_On_The_Nft_Bubble

    June 23, 2021 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Internet Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always useful to read through articles from other authors and practice something from other web sites.

    http://www.momsnboys.com/cgi-bin/at3/out.cgi?id=242&tag=toplist&trade=https://postfallsphotographer.com

    June 23, 2021 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. bitcoin atm near me

    Hello there! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent information you've got here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon.

    https://www.freecenter.com/db/review.cgi?category=pda&url=http://bestlocalnearme.com

    June 23, 2021 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Local Marketing Companies Near Me

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the web. I am going to highly recommend this blog!

    https://www.imp.mx/salto.php?va=https://juicycalls.com

    June 23, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. SEO Marketing Agency

    http://www.aims-investments.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=internetmarketingmontana.com

    June 23, 2021 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. auto parts stores near me

    http://www.garden-floor.com/click.php?url=https://masternearme.com

    June 23, 2021 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Repair Centers Near Me

    bookmarked!!, I like your blog!

    http://gowithtom.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.org

    June 23, 2021 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. DRAGQUEEN

    Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity in your post is simply cool
    and that i can suppose you are a professional on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to clutch your feed to stay up to date
    with approaching post. Thank you one million and please
    keep up the enjoyable work.

    June 23, 2021 at 21:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Mobile Repair Service Near Me

    http://midtownhomesnashville.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.art

    June 24, 2021 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Local Marketing Company

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the info!

    http://brandonchildrenshealth.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=spokanevalleyseo.com

    June 24, 2021 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Social Media Marketing Market

    You've made some decent points there. I looked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

    http://www.townoflogansport.com/about-logansport/Calendar/Details/14-09-18/Food_Bank_Open.aspx?Returnurl=http://internetmarketingwashington.com

    June 24, 2021 at 04:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Social Media Marketing Service

    Good information. Lucky me I found your site by chance (stumbleupon). I've bookmarked it for later!

    http://firstflush.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=postfallslocal.com

    June 24, 2021 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Internet Marketing Agencies Near Me

    After looking into a handful of the blog articles on your web page, I really appreciate your way of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site too and tell me how you feel.

    http://www.eroticlinks.net/cgi-bin/atx/out.cgi?id=25&tag=topz&trade=https://internetmarketingoregon.com

    June 24, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Leave a Reply to fine dining Orlando


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.