To get through your school or work routines each day, you need to be functioning at your best. Unfortunately, if you suffer from depression, your condition can keep you from performing at your fullest potential.
Depression can cause cognitive impairment. It may impact your ability to focus, your memory, your attention level, and the way you think.
Read on to learn what depression is, how it affects your concentration, and what you can do to improve your focus.
What Impacts Your Concentration?
You depend on your ability to concentrate to function at your best. When your ability to focus is affected, you have trouble paying attention, performing tasks, and thinking clearly.
If you have trouble concentrating, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Trouble sitting still
- Problems thinking clearly
- Inability to remember things that happened recently
- Lack of focus
- Problems making decisions
- Making careless mistakes
Factors That Affect Concentration
Your ability to concentrate can be affected by chronic conditions, lifestyle factors, or certain medications. Common factors affecting your concentration include:
- Alcohol use
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Major depressive disorder
- Mental illness
- Lack of sleep
Depression and Concentration
Many people think of depression and assume it means being really sad or lonely. They may assume depression patients do not have the energy to participate in activities they used to enjoy.
If you suffer from a depressive disorder, you know the truth. Depression impacts more than just your mood. It affects your everyday life and functioning. Depression affects your ability to think, your memory, attention span, and decision-making skills.
There has been a significant increase in depression and anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantining, and work-at-home orders. According to the CDC’s research, the prevalence of depressive disorder in the second quarter of 2020 was nearly four times what it was for the same time frame in 2019.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a common, yet serious mental illness that affects how you think, feel, and act. It causes feelings of sadness and disinterest, emotional and physical problems, and decreased functioning at work and home.
Signs and Symptoms
Cases of depression can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms of depression may include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty
- Outbursts of anger
- Decreased interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Too little or too much sleep
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Agitation or restlessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Unexplained physical problems such as headaches
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is different from general sadness or grief which comes in waves. People with depression have intense, long-lasting periods of hopelessness or sadness. Mood and interest have decreased for more than two weeks. Self-esteem is usually affected as well.
How To Concentrate When Dealing With Depression
A lapse in memory or concentration is not something to shrug off. Trouble concentrating can be related to your brain’s executive function. This part of your brain is responsible for planning, making decisions, and paying attention.
Tips to Improve Your Focus
If you are having trouble focusing, especially while working, considering the following tips:
- Keep track of when you lack focus or concentration. By tracking your concentration, you are aware of your more productive times. You can plan your activities accordingly.
- Practice mindfulness meditation. Meditation helps you focus your thoughts. Mindfulness meditation allows you to bring your mind back and to focus.
- Reduce potential distractions. Distractions are just that…distracting. They keep you from focusing on the task at hand. Check your workspace and remove items that make noise or lights or catch your eye and pull you away from your work.
- Schedule your day in chunks so you work in blocks of time. Plan your day so that you work for specific periods of time with planned breaks. Our attention starts to wane after specific periods of time. How long that productive period lasts varies from person to person.
Give yourself regular breaks to rest and refocus before returning to your tasks. Experiment with your schedule to find the chunking method that works for you and keeps your attention at its peak.
- Stimulate your brain. Engage your brain in activities that use your brain’s executive function. Take part in activities that require mental skill but are not overwhelming.
Consider a new hobby or skill such as cooking, painting, or learning a new language. Try something that requires attention yet is fun and rewarding as it shows your progress.
- Limit caffeine and sugar intake. Your blood sugar levels can affect your attention. Products high in caffeine or sugar cause spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels. Eat fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods to keep your levels more even.
- Review your medications. Certain medications can cause drowsiness or fatigue. If you notice a connection between your medication and attention levels, speak with your healthcare provider. You may need to change your dosage or medication.
Depression Treatment With Focus Clinic
Depression can cause cognitive problems. It affects your ability to work and function at your best.
At Focus Clinic, we specialize in mental health treatment, specifically in depression, anxiety, adult ADHD, and work-from-home issues. Our board-certified mental health providers provide holistic, integrative care including online medication management.