student at table
By BrightView
Published: March 17, 2022
Updated: March 29, 2022

If you have ever tried to complete a difficult mental task when you were not feeling your best, you have a general idea of how your health can impact your brain. Students and individuals who perform mental work at their jobs require their brains to function optimally. Any decline in cognitive function can adversely affect your performance, so you must understand the effect of depression on the brain. And if you self-medicate with drugs to alleviate depression symptoms, you may need help from a drug addiction treatment program to get back on track.

BrightView’s substance use disorder treatment center can help you overcome the effect of depression on cognitive function. We understand how your mental health can interfere with your work and studies. Our treatment programs can help you regain the focus and clarity you need to do your best. Call us today at 888.501.9865 so you can start feeling better tomorrow.

What Is the Effect of Depression on Students?

Depression is a mental health condition that directly affects the brain. Studies have found that having a depressive disorder shrinks brain size due to the loss of gray matter volume (GMV).

The process goes like this:

  1. Depression affects the hippocampus and raises cortisol levels, which are stress hormones.
  2. As cortisol levels rise, they interfere with healthy neuron development in the brain, which affects thinking and memory.
  3. The reduction of neuron production results in brain shrinkage.

When the cerebral areas of the brain shrink, cognitive function can be impaired. This effect of depression on the brain can lead to:

  • Inability to focus
  • Distractibility
  • Difficulty learning new skills
  • Poor working memory
  • Interference with reasoning and decision-making

As you can imagine, these adverse effects can cause mental performance to suffer greatly. If a student is depressed and struggles with cognitive performance, they may also experience a drop in confidence and self-esteem. They can become frustrated and irritable with their persistent low mood and inability to succeed in school. It may be no surprise that these students are more likely to engage in drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. 

How to Manage the Effect of Depression on Cognitive Function

Are you at the mercy of poor cognitive function because of your depression? Not at all. Thankfully, there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can help you protect your brain from the effects of depression:

  • Schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss whether you need to start taking medication to treat depression. If you take other medications, ask your doctor if these could be contributing to your depression or impaired cognitive function.
  • Eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, and magnesium. These nutrients are known to help support emotional balance and brain health.
  • Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily life. Stress reduction helps lower cortisol levels, preventing their adverse effects on your brain.
  • Exercise regularly to help counteract brain shrinkage from raised cortisol levels. Physical activity is beneficial for healthy brain function and can help grow the hippocampus.
  • Play brain games daily to help sharpen your brain and reduce the impact of depression. You can download an app with these brain-boosting games, do crossword puzzles, or play sudoku.

If you have been using drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms of depression, seek help from a substance use disorder and depression treatment center. Overcoming SUD and finding healthy ways to manage depression are some of the best things you can do to support your brain and maximize your mental performance.

Find Brighter Days at BrightView’s Depression Treatment Center

BrightView is dedicated to helping people dealing with depression find their light at the end of the tunnel. We want you to know that you do not have to give up feeling happy again. With the help of our depression treatment center, you can get back to living the life you want. Call us today at 888.501.9865 to enroll in our comprehensive treatment program for depression.