How Depression Affects Learning

Depression is a mental health illness that can arise from a number of genetic, biological and environmental factors. It is extremely common for depression to co-occur with other mental health illnesses. It can cause other psychological issues or even result from one. Depression will affect one’s mood, physical health and psychological health, including learning ability.

Depression can impair one’s cognitive functioning. The disorder interferes with one’s thought process, the ability to make decisions and concentration. Depression changes the brain, which can slow the brain’s functioning. Depressed people frequently experience memory problems and have trouble remembering events or details. As a result they may be unable to complete tasks that require both high-motor and cognitive skills.

Patients may appear confused, scatterbrained, overwhelmed or become frustrated easily. Even everyday tasks can be difficult for someone struggling with depression. These mental impairments are especially costly to children and students who are still attempting to learn crucial fundamental skills.

The following symptoms of depression can also contribute to learning problems or disabilities:

  • Mood swings and emotional irregularities
  • Low self-esteem causing feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and self-hatred
  • Feeling irritable, agitated or anxious
  • Not finding pleasure, ultimately causing the individual to become disinterested in activities, work and other performance-based behaviors
  • Significant sleep disturbances (insomnia or hypersomnia) that affect the individual’s physical and psychological health

If you suffer from any of these issues, they may come from depression.

How Learning Disabilities can Trigger Depression

Individuals with learning disabilities may be unaware that they are candidates for depression. The stress and frustrations of living with a learning disability can trigger depressed episodes, and these people may lack the ability to cope with stress. A learning disability can present many mental and physical challenges as well as cause emotional pain.

Struggling with learning can make people feel incompetent, discouraged, angry and sometimes worthless. Lacking the ability to manage these reoccurring emotions may trigger depression. What is unfortunate is that people with learning disabilities have a harder time recognizing the symptoms of depression, which makes them less likely to seek help.

Potential Consequences of Depression and Learning Disabilities

Both depression and learning disabilities can create many problems when they exist alone. However, when the two issues co-exist, the symptoms worsen. Potential consequences of untreated, co-existing conditions of depression and learning disabilities may include the following issues:

  • Inability to find happiness resulting in a lack of interest and motivation
  • Physical and psychological fatigue
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Feelings of confusion, despair and helplessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
  • Memory problems
  • Substance abuse, drug dependence and addiction
  • Isolation from others or relationship problems
  • Problems at work, unemployment, financial trouble, lacking health insurance benefits to assist with treatment

These issues can be debilitating, but treatment can get you back on your feet.