How Does Depression Affect Memory in Children?
Many children and adolescents experience depression. Symptoms of depression in children and adolescents include behavioral problems in school, changes in eating and sleeping habits, irritability, and lacking interest in things that typically bring joy. Cognitively, children battling depression may also have trouble with memory. In this blog post, we discuss how depression affects memory in children and adolescents.
Few research studies have focused on the effects of depression on memory in children. One study, by Lauer et. al (1994) hypothesized that children who were diagnosed with depression would exhibit information processing and memory difficulties in comparison to children who have not experienced depression. 21 children with depression and 21 children without a diagnosis of depression participated in the study and completed 2 depression assessments along with several neuropsychological assessments, including a recall task. In the group of children diagnosed with depression, children were separated into low or high depression groups according to their depression assessments.
What researchers found was that children who reported higher depression scores had lower performance in a recall task than did children with lower depression scores. In a meta-memory battery, children regardless of their severity of depression performed worse than did children without a diagnosis of depression. Other studies have found similar results, with depressed children experiencing difficulty in metamemory than children without depression.
What Does This Mean?
If you are working with children who are experiencing depression, you may want to address cognition as part of their depression therapy. In adults, research has shown that depression impacts executive functioning, working memory, attention and processing speed. Clinicians can provide cognitive remediation therapy for children and adolescents who are experiencing cognitive difficulties due to depression and other psychological conditions. Many clinicians use a combination of print and digital cognitive therapy tools to provide cognitive remediation therapy for their clients in person or remotely. Ask your pediatric client if they are experiencing cognitive difficulties, and see if they may be interested in trying a cognitive remediation therapy program with you.