How Does Education Impact Depression?

Did you know that education may protect against memory impairment related to depression in older women?


One study in Korea by Lee, Park, & Chey (2018) studied 29 women with less than 6 years of formal education and 49 women with more than 6 years of formal education. All women in the study were between the ages of 65 and 87 years of age. In the study, all women were assessed for depression using the Geriatric Depression Scale, stress using the Perceived Stress Scale, and were cognitively assessed using the Korean Dementia Rating Scale-2 and the Elderly Verbal Learning Test. 


Researchers found that depressive mood significantly predicted performance on the verbal memory tasks for women who had less than 6 years of formal education. They also found that for women who had 6 or more years of formal education, a depressive mood was not a predictor of cognitive performance on the verbal memory tasks. These findings suggest that having more formal education may play a protective role against memory impairment due to depression. 


Education is a popular measure of a person’s cognitive reserve. Many studies have examined the role of cognitive reserve on cognitive impairment due to depression. Further research shows that education may protect against cognitive decline in aging populations. This is because schooling promotes enriched cognitive experiences that foster enhanced neural connections and neural firing within the brain. This in turn allows neurons in the brain to fire more efficiently and adapt to different situations.

How can you help your clients struggling with depression?

You may want to help your aging clients find free classes or enroll in a paid course focusing on a topic that they like. There are many courses available online through different websites, such as Coursera. If your client is interested in going back to school for a degree, you can help them make a plan as to how to do so and guide them along the process. Taking courses may not only help your client learn a new skill, but may be helpful in helping them better handle depression on a cognitive level. 

Lee, J., Park, H., & Chey, J. (2018). Education as a Protective Factor Moderating the Effect of Depression on Memory Impairment in Elderly Women. Psychiatry investigation, 15(1), 70–77.
Dustin Luchmee

Dustin was HappyNeuron's Product Specialist. With research experience in stroke, Dustin learned how a stroke can change someone's life. He also learned how different kinds of therapists can work together to help a person get better. He is passionate about neuro-rehabilitation and finding the active ingredients for effective therapy.

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