Does depression make you less smart? Is it permanent?

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    I've had depression for just over 4 years now. The first year or two I didn't notice much difference to my intelligence other than a bit of trouble concentrating, but I swear it's completely dumbed me down since then.
    For starters I do everything more slowly - thinking, reading and talking - so absorbing information takes a lot longer. And everything is just so much harder to understand, although maybe that can be explained by lack of concentration (which has got way worse over the years).
    My memory is pretty bad these days as well - at college I have to rewrite my notes several times to be able to retain information for even a little while, whereas a few years ago I could just hear it once and that's it, I'd remember it for ages.

    Is this down to the depression? I believe it is because how smart I am is basically inversely proportional to how depressed I am, but I've never heard of these symptoms (other than trouble concentrating).
    And if there are any whizzes out there, are there any studies showing this, and does it (my dumbness) go away when the depression does? I hope it does because I was actually pretty smart a few years back and now I find everything hard (cue violins).
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by thebluepenguins)
    I've had depression for just over 4 years now. The first year or two I didn't notice much difference to my intelligence other than a bit of trouble concentrating, but I swear it's completely dumbed me down since then.
    For starters I do everything more slowly - thinking, reading and talking - so absorbing information takes a lot longer. And everything is just so much harder to understand, although maybe that can be explained by lack of concentration (which has got way worse over the years).
    My memory is pretty bad these days as well - at college I have to rewrite my notes several times to be able to retain information for even a little while, whereas a few years ago I could just hear it once and that's it, I'd remember it for ages.

    Is this down to the depression? I believe it is because how smart I am is basically inversely proportional to how depressed I am, but I've never heard of these symptoms (other than trouble concentrating).
    And if there are any whizzes out there, are there any studies showing this, and does it (my dumbness) go away when the depression does? I hope it does because I was actually pretty smart a few years back and now I find everything hard (cue violins).
    Hey, certainly a lack of concentration would understandably affect your studies, and depression also. But It sounds like you're at college? At this stage the material is getting a lot more difficult anyway, I wouldn't lay the blame all on your depression. Most people at this stage are struggling (those who say they aren't are lying) - and the quantity of info also increases tremendously. Everything you've described I'm pretty sure happened to me at this point! You will need to adjust HOW you study, to account for that increase in difficulty - don't expect the same methods to work at each level, subject or module.

    In addition to that, you're also just becoming an adult, and you basically have a crap load more distractions - I.e. dealing with life, which 4 years ago you probably didn't have half as much to worry about. That makes a big difference and is understandable.

    You have to be flexible and to try new methods. Depression sucks, but remember your in control


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by thebluepenguins)
    I've had depression for just over 4 years now. The first year or two I didn't notice much difference to my intelligence other than a bit of trouble concentrating, but I swear it's completely dumbed me down since then.
    For starters I do everything more slowly - thinking, reading and talking - so absorbing information takes a lot longer. And everything is just so much harder to understand, although maybe that can be explained by lack of concentration (which has got way worse over the years).
    My memory is pretty bad these days as well - at college I have to rewrite my notes several times to be able to retain information for even a little while, whereas a few years ago I could just hear it once and that's it, I'd remember it for ages.

    Is this down to the depression? I believe it is because how smart I am is basically inversely proportional to how depressed I am, but I've never heard of these symptoms (other than trouble concentrating).
    And if there are any whizzes out there, are there any studies showing this, and does it (my dumbness) go away when the depression does? I hope it does because I was actually pretty smart a few years back and now I find everything hard (cue violins).
    From my own personal experience it hasn't made me less smart per sé (I was able to average a very high 2.1 in my first year of university) but it certainly makes studying abit more difficult at times? You mentioned the memory thing and I certainly have to recite things more than I used to before I was put on anti-depressants but I'm still able to understand the content
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    It doesn't make you less smart - I had depression during my exams, and got 7As and a B (Scottish NAT5s, so A is the highest you get). But it can make it harder to focus and concentrate, and can make your mind foggy, so you might feel like you're dumber - but you're not. It's okay.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    I was diagnosed with depression in 1964 when I was 16. I'm at uni now and I do sometimes feel that the depression makes me feel that it has affected me in the way described here. But I try and think positively and keep saying "I can do this". It comes and goes, but it never goes away. You just have to get stuck in there.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Do you have trauma background? That can definitely affect cognition, memory (both retaining and recall) can also cause side effects which mimic learning difficulties. Such as jumbled written work, substituting words

    That being said depression itself alters cognition too. And it's not permanent if the depression isn't.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    From my experience it certainly had a pretty serious effect on my intelligence (dropping about a grade boundary across my subjects at A Level for a quantitative measure). It's not permanent. Your natural intelligence should return to normal when your mental health does too.

    EDIT: If I'm being completely honest, it did make me more inclined to bury myself in school work, so I did end up improving still a lot, just not fulfilling my potential. I still have plenty of time, and you should too, to demonstrate your potential and improve yet more.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Tedward)
    Hey, certainly a lack of concentration would understandably affect your studies, and depression also. But It sounds like you're at college? At this stage the material is getting a lot more difficult anyway, I wouldn't lay the blame all on your depression. Most people at this stage are struggling (those who say they aren't are lying) - and the quantity of info also increases tremendously. Everything you've described I'm pretty sure happened to me at this point! You will need to adjust HOW you study, to account for that increase in difficulty - don't expect the same methods to work at each level, subject or module.

    In addition to that, you're also just becoming an adult, and you basically have a crap load more distractions - I.e. dealing with life, which 4 years ago you probably didn't have half as much to worry about. That makes a big difference and is understandable.

    You have to be flexible and to try new methods. Depression sucks, but remember your in control


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    My work is certainly harder, no doubt about that. But things that I could do when I was younger I just...can't any more. A few years back I read Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and got through it no problem. I tried to read it again last week and I can't wrap my head around it. Information is just harder to understand than it used to be. I'm hoping it's because I can't concentrate and other stuff that comes with depression (fatigue, general low mood, etc) and the other stuff you mentioned about getting older. Appreciate the comment though, it's reassuring to know it happened to you too
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ~Tara~)
    Do you have trauma background? That can definitely affect cognition, memory (both retaining and recall) can also cause side effects which mimic learning difficulties. Such as jumbled written work, substituting words

    That being said depression itself alters cognition too. And it's not permanent if the depression isn't.
    No, I don't
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by IndyPrince)
    It doesn't make you less smart - I had depression during my exams, and got 7As and a B (Scottish NAT5s, so A is the highest you get). But it can make it harder to focus and concentrate, and can make your mind foggy, so you might feel like you're dumber - but you're not. It's okay.
    Thank you. Fantastic to hear you did so well
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by thebluepenguins)
    Thank you. Fantastic to hear you did so well
    Just do the best that you can do, and that's what I did. It can be hard sometimes to study - I found studying really hard sometimes, but so long as you try your best where you can, you know that you have put in effort.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by thebluepenguins)
    My work is certainly harder, no doubt about that. But things that I could do when I was younger I just...can't any more. A few years back I read Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and got through it no problem. I tried to read it again last week and I can't wrap my head around it. Information is just harder to understand than it used to be. I'm hoping it's because I can't concentrate and other stuff that comes with depression (fatigue, general low mood, etc) and the other stuff you mentioned about getting older. Appreciate the comment though, it's reassuring to know it happened to you too
    I think it's down to the depression clouding your thoughts and concentration, your mind's probably feeling cluttered, so when there's clutter it's hard to concentrate, think and focus.

    I went to a Vipassana meditation retreat for 10 days and that really helped declutter my mind, brought peace to my mind, and helped eradicate feelings of suffering and depression.

    It's all about removing old habit patterns in your mind, to help tune back into your original unconditioned peaceful mind, leading to enlightenment.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    It made me feel less smart, and that would cause me to behave less intelligently generally. It would cause me to be unable to focus enough to learn or read anything, and I would have such low self-esteem I would just give up before I really tried. So it was cyclical in a way, I felt stupid so I engaged in behaviours which prevented my learning, thus making me comparatively stupid.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I feel you. My brain feels so slowed down. I hear instructions at work and I would stare at them blankly for a couple of seconds before fully understanding what I have been told to do. With my studies too, the lack of concentration/motivation is affecting my ability to pull through a difficult question and is feeding my low self esteem (which then feeds the depression!). I hope it goes away for both of us together with the depression.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by thebluepenguins)
    I've had depression for just over 4 years now. The first year or two I didn't notice much difference to my intelligence other than a bit of trouble concentrating, but I swear it's completely dumbed me down since then.
    For starters I do everything more slowly - thinking, reading and talking - so absorbing information takes a lot longer. And everything is just so much harder to understand, although maybe that can be explained by lack of concentration (which has got way worse over the years).
    My memory is pretty bad these days as well - at college I have to rewrite my notes several times to be able to retain information for even a little while, whereas a few years ago I could just hear it once and that's it, I'd remember it for ages.

    Is this down to the depression? I believe it is because how smart I am is basically inversely proportional to how depressed I am, but I've never heard of these symptoms (other than trouble concentrating).
    And if there are any whizzes out there, are there any studies showing this, and does it (my dumbness) go away when the depression does? I hope it does because I was actually pretty smart a few years back and now I find everything hard (cue violins).
    Obviously I'm not a scientist, or a doctor, or a psychologist etc. But I feel that I am definitely less academically 'clever' as a result of two and a half years of depression. I have the same problems that you describe, intake of info is so much harder and slower. I have to double check most things as I have probably heard them wrong. My concentration's gone down the toilet, hence why I'm here and not writing my essay.

    Doom and gloom! What a helpful addition to this thread!

    However, since experiencing depression and experiencing the shift in my abilities and capabilities, I value things differently and perhaps in a more healthy way than before. My grades aren't so important so long as I have good company, I'm having fun and I'm in good health. I have also been able to pursue opportunities and avenues of study that I might have disregarded as frivolous or 'not scientific/rational enough'. There's a silver lining, sometimes it's just harder to pick out cause of the way we appreciate certain skills as a society.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    No it's the fact the depression is taxing your mind, there's little mental space ad energy left to focus on learning and retention. If you get the appropriate treatment for the depression with lifestyle changes that mean you live more akin to how you want to live then these problems with cognition will ease a bit. The other thing is depression often messes with your confidence, which affects your ability to learn efficiently in it's own right. Coping with any illness is emotionally exhausting, anything that has the effect of tiring you out be it physically or mentally is going to affect your performance in every way including intellectually/academic performance.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by liomeeringca)
    Obviously I'm not a scientist, or a doctor, or a psychologist etc. But I feel that I am definitely less academically 'clever' as a result of two and a half years of depression. I have the same problems that you describe, intake of info is so much harder and slower. I have to double check most things as I have probably heard them wrong. My concentration's gone down the toilet, hence why I'm here and not writing my essay.

    Doom and gloom! What a helpful addition to this thread!

    However, since experiencing depression and experiencing the shift in my abilities and capabilities, I value things differently and perhaps in a more healthy way than before. My grades aren't so important so long as I have good company, I'm having fun and I'm in good health. I have also been able to pursue opportunities and avenues of study that I might have disregarded as frivolous or 'not scientific/rational enough'. There's a silver lining, sometimes it's just harder to pick out cause of the way we appreciate certain skills as a society.
    Thanks for this. It may seem like doom and gloom for you but I know now that others feel the same way I do, which makes me feel a little better (not that I want people to feel bad but....oh, you know what I mean).
    I also value things differently I appreciate things that remain consistently good no matter how bad I'm feeling, such as art or music, and am much more grateful for the people in my life because without their love who knows where I'd be now.
    Hope things are well for you
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    Depression affects cognitive functioning, which can make you appear and feel like your mental capacity isn't up to much. Keep your brain active though and it shouldn't be permanent.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    My existential depression actually made me more smart. I see this as a state of mind.

    Clinical depression is a state of being. An illness which I've luckily never experienced.

    Yes I'm pretty sure it will affect the way you function. That clearly doesn't mean a decrease in IQ though.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by stefano865)
    My existential depression actually made me more smart. I see this as state of mind.

    Clinical depression is a state of being. An illness which I've luckily never experienced.

    Yes I'm pretty sure it will affect the way you function. That clearly doesn't mean a decrease in IQ though.
    I'm probably just splitting hairs here, but my IQ actually has gone down. That's not necessarily due to depression though, and personally I don't think they're a reliable measure of intelligence anyway.
    Can I ask what you mean by 'existential depression' and how it made you more smart?
 
 
 
Write a reply… Reply
Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. Oops, you need to agree to our Ts&Cs to register
  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: September 29, 2016
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Today on TSR
Poll
Would you ever go to a non Russell Group uni?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Quick reply
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.