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Prolonged lack of concentration due to depression


wellness123

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Hi All

First time poster here.....I am 31 years old and have had ongoing issues relating to low mood/anxiety since my early teens. Since my late teens, this has had a drastic effect on my concentration. Almost overnight at the age of 17, I went from being a high achiever academically to my current state where I have issues absorbing information and focussing for any sustained period of time. I have been seeking help for depression since about the age of 22 and started using SSRIs at the age of 24 (I continued this for about 4 years and then stopped as I felt I was not getting enough benefit to justify the trouble and expense). I have recently been very low and this has impacted on my career to the extent that I am now on stress leave from work. I generally cannot study in any meaningful way or undertake research projects at work to any reasonable standard. My attention to detail is also badly impacted.

Until now, I had never spoken to anyone about my issues but in the last week I have made my family and some friends aware of what I have been going through. I have visited my doctor and been prescribed with mirtazapine (I am still waiting to feel any benefit but have been told it may take 2-4 weeks to take effect). If it doesn't I will trial other meds.

I am very determined to get well and hope that opening up to some people will help, together with hopefully finding meds that work, will have a positive effect.

I just wanted to know if anyone on here can relate to my specific circumstances regarding a dramatic loss of concentration? I have always read other people's experiences of depression with interest but it appears that the dramatic loss of concentration I have suffered might not be a common product of depression, which concerns me slightly. I do realise that depression is a broad area and that everyone's experience of it is unique. I have been screened for ADD/ADHD, for example, and have even tried out the relevant little medication, which had little or no effect. I do suffer other effects of depression such as social withdrawal, general anxiety etc but the concentration issue is probably the most damaging aspect of it, as it has held me back hugely both professionally and academically.

If anyone has had even a slightly similar experience they would like to share, please let me know.

Thanks :)

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hmm... I don't think I experienced that until I took my meds, there was loss of concentration, just a bit but that's bc the meds dull your senses ... it made you a bit slower however it didn't make me forget. 

 

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I've had problems concentrating w/depression/anxiety and it makes sense. The cognitive/rational part of your brain tends to shut down when under emotional duress which is why CBT while proven effective , tends not to work when you are at the extremes of anxiety/depression because that part of the brain shuts down.

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Yes, I have terrible concentration problems. Super sad for me cuz many activities have fallen to the wayside. I used to love to draw and paint but now it actually kinda hurts my brain to do stuff like that. Cooking has to be super simple or it's overwhelming. I'm grateful that I enjoy walking and hiking. 

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15 hours ago, wellness123 said:

Hi All

First time poster here.....I am 31 years old and have had ongoing issues relating to low mood/anxiety since my early teens. Since my late teens, this has had a drastic effect on my concentration. Almost overnight at the age of 17, I went from being a high achiever academically to my current state where I have issues absorbing information and focussing for any sustained period of time. I have been seeking help for depression since about the age of 22 and started using SSRIs at the age of 24 (I continued this for about 4 years and then stopped as I felt I was not getting enough benefit to justify the trouble and expense). I have recently been very low and this has impacted on my career to the extent that I am now on stress leave from work. I generally cannot study in any meaningful way or undertake research projects at work to any reasonable standard. My attention to detail is also badly impacted.

Until now, I had never spoken to anyone about my issues but in the last week I have made my family and some friends aware of what I have been going through. I have visited my doctor and been prescribed with mirtazapine (I am still waiting to feel any benefit but have been told it may take 2-4 weeks to take effect). If it doesn't I will trial other meds.

I am very determined to get well and hope that opening up to some people will help, together with hopefully finding meds that work, will have a positive effect.

I just wanted to know if anyone on here can relate to my specific circumstances regarding a dramatic loss of concentration? I have always read other people's experiences of depression with interest but it appears that the dramatic loss of concentration I have suffered might not be a common product of depression, which concerns me slightly. I do realise that depression is a broad area and that everyone's experience of it is unique. I have been screened for ADD/ADHD, for example, and have even tried out the relevant little medication, which had little or no effect. I do suffer other effects of depression such as social withdrawal, general anxiety etc but the concentration issue is probably the most damaging aspect of it, as it has held me back hugely both professionally and academically.

If anyone has had even a slightly similar experience they would like to share, please let me know.

Thanks :)

I have all sorts of trouble with concentration and also short-term memory, especially when anxiety and depression is particularly bad (however, it exists almost regularly to some extent with any level of depression for me, which has been a long-term thing- dysthymia with episodes of major depression)  I hope you find some improvement through your medication!!

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Issues with depression and lack of focus tend to be fairly common.  To what extent may vary.   One of the key problems with depression is rumination, and so when a person has a lot on their mind, it draws focus away from other areas.

Brain scans have shown that some areas in the brain of depressed patients are actually OVER active.  Usually it's the prefrontal cortex. When I had my MRI we found the same thing.  But it's not a big surprise since I ruminate, and I still have to do everything else in life on top of that. 

It's like trying to watch a movie and someone is talking on a cell phone.  You get distracted by that other voice, and that draws you away from the movie.  With depression, it draws away your focus, which means it's that much harder to focus on other things.

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4 hours ago, RockoBoy said:

I have all sorts of trouble with concentration and also short-term memory, especially when anxiety and depression is particularly bad (however, it exists almost regularly to some extent with any level of depression for me, which has been a long-term thing- dysthymia with episodes of major depression)  I hope you find some improvement through your medication!!

Ditto

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Thanks for the responses guys, it's good to know some people are having someway similar experiences.

I certainly do relate to the point about ruminating. It seems to me that I almost always ruminate on how to try to feel better/make positive changes etc. Obviously there are times when ruminating distracts from other activities. Over short periods of time, I can stop myself thinking (I have studied mindfulness and meditation in the past) but over prolonged periods I find it almost impossible to maintain concentration and I tend to get dragged into negative thought patterns - this makes studying in particular a terrible experience. It feels like my subconscious takes control of my cognitive functions to an extent and to be honest it makes life difficult in general. On a bad day, I struggle even to follow a conversation when I am in a group of people.

I would add that I have a healthy lifestyle, a good group of friends, a supportive family, and have had no major trauma in my life (I realise that I am lucky in this regard). There is a history of depression in my family and I feel that I have probably inherited this. Although I am trialling medications, I hope also that being more open with people about my depression will reduce its effects.

I'm still positive that I will get a better handle on the situation but I must admit that I find the lack of concentration very frustrating, particularly given how long I have been feeling the effects and how fundamental concentration is to almost everything in my life. Fingers crossed I suppose!

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I have the same problem :( Also no motivation when I'm really depressed like now. I'm meant to be self-employed but this becomes a huge problem when I feel like this as I don't get anything done! 

I'm wondering if the medication has made my concentration worse or not. I have severe depression and generalised anxiety disorder (and OCD) and what helps one of the things makes the other worse it seems. 

It's good that you can be open with people about your depression.

Hope things get better for you.

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Same thing here.  I am 27 and cannot concentrate, and my memory is horrible.  I work in a very fast paced and detail oriented job, and it is so overwhelming some days I feel like just giving up.  I can completely relate to you when it comes to being so stressed you cannot handle work.  Unfortunately the world doesnt have an understanding yet for people who are going through these kinds of things.  I hope it helps you to know you are not alone in the struggle.  While it gives me some comfort, it is fleeting.  Stay strong.  It cant rain every day, right?

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My therapist a few years ago was going to suggest I read a book and I said "I can't read".  Of course to clarify she asked if I meant that I literally couldn't read or that my concentration and retention was poor.  I told her the latter.

So she asked me to do a "depression test".

 

I passed with FLYING COLOURS. :smilingteeth::smilingteeth::Party_fest30::Party_fest30::Party_fest30:

(oh yeah, in Canada, colours has a "u" in it)

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