The cognitive symptoms of depression tend to receive less attention than other symptoms of this difficult illness. Namely, symptoms such as sinking mood, fatigue and loss of interest garner more recognition.
Yet cognitive symptoms are quite common. “[They] are actually significantly prominent in depression,” said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression.
And these symptoms are incredibly debilitating. “In my opinion, when cognitive symptoms of depression hit, they are more of a pressing concern than physical symptoms.”
Cognitive symptoms can interfere with all areas of a person’s life, including work, school and their relationships. Problem-solving and higher thinking, according to Serani, are greatly diminished. “This can leave a person feeling helpless and without a plan of action to defeat depression.”
Poor concentration can cause problems with communication, and indecisiveness may strain relationships, according to William Marchand, M.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine and author of the book Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Your Guide to Recovery.
The cognitive symptoms of depression also may get confused with other conditions, complicating diagnosis. Here’s a specific list of symptoms along with similar disorders.
Cognitive Symptoms of Depression
“Cognitive symptoms can be subtle and often go unrecognized,” according to Dr. Marchand. Fortunately, psychotherapy can help individuals become more aware of these symptoms, such as distorted thinking, he said.
Marchand and Serani shared these cognitive symptoms of depression: