Expert advice

Paul Morgan: mental health advisor

Paul Morgan is Deputy Director of SANE Australia, the mental health charity. He is a leading expert in promoting understanding of mental illness in the community. ASK ME A QUESTION

Deterioration in memory and concentration

Wednesday, January 10, 2001
The kind of things you are experiencing, such as difficulty concentrating or carrying on conversations and low self-esteem sound very similar to symptoms of depression.

Question:
In the past 5 months or so it seems as though my memory, concentration and general thinking has deteriorated dramatically. I once though of myself as intelligent, quick witted, and sociable but these days all I feel is 'fuzzy' in the head, unable to think rationally or effectively. My memory is terrible and this embarasses me because I have trouble carrying out conversations about anything. My creativity, self esteem, assertiveness, etc have also suffered as a result. I notice that it's always worst in the first half of the day, before about 4-5pm. Things improve in the evening but still not to their original level. So my question is, what could this possibly be? Are there any diseases or condtions that cause these symptoms? I haven't been stressed or under pressure, quite the opposite. I was depressed a couple of months ago, which was treated but I still feel awful in the morning. Is it simply that I'm not 'a morning person', or could it go deeper than this. Any information is welcomed with opened arms!

Answer:
The kind of things you are experiencing, such as difficulty concentrating or carrying on conversations and low self-esteem sound very similar to symptoms of depression. The effects of depression are much broader than simply feeling "low" for a long period, and can affect how someone functions in a whole range of ways. Research suggests that more than half of those affected by depression in Australia do not seek medical help. This may be because people do not recognise their symptoms as an illness which can be treated, but mistakenly believe "that's just the way life is" or "that's the sort of person I am". Many people who've had depression talk about symptoms being worse earlier in the day, which is also something you mention from your own experience. Only a doctor can properly investigate your symptoms and form a diagnosis, of course. I suggest that you make an appointment to see the GP who treated your previous episode of depression. It may be that some psychological treatment will then also be recommended in addition to antidepressant medication.


Find out more about mental illness, and how SANE can assist. Visit their website at www.sane.org.


"How can I improve my memory?" "I'm 30 and have never had a boyfriend" "Is my daughter a compulsive liar?" Panic attacks
advertisement