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Poor Concentration and Depression: Tips to Help

Losing focus from a task at hand is something we’ve all experienced at some points in our lives. We could get distracted from reading a book by birds chirping or the sound or lyrics of music playing in the background. But staying focus on a present task may be quite a task itself for people with depression.

There is a growing body of evidence linking poor concentration with depression. Research has revealed that the brain’s ability to process information quickly is significantly lowered in people with depression. This poor concentration is also a major cause of memory loss seen in these patients.

Ultimately, persistent poor concentration leads to complications including job loss, interpersonal and social relationships, as well as personal problems including difficulty carrying out simple tasks such as, driving, reading a book, or writing a note. Consequently, it may be difficult for such persons to make simple decisions.

How Depression Affects Your Brain

In depression, several parts of the brain are defective. These include the parts that control mood, emotion, and memory – the amygdala and hippocampus. As a result, the volumes of these organs decrease, altering the nerve connections within them. These changes make it difficult to process and retain information.

Another factor that links poor concentration with depression is poor blood sugar control. Poor blood sugar control is a major problem among people with depression. According to a study in the International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries, poorly regulated blood sugar impairs concentration and worsens the symptoms of depression.

What to do?

If you are struggling with depression and are having trouble concentrating, there is a way out; and, you should seek help. Improving your attention and mood depends on a combination of medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes.


Although taking your antidepressant medications can eliminate this symptom, not all antidepressants are effective at improving attention span. Some antidepressants which are sedating may have properties that impair memory.

If you have conditions such as ADHD your doctor may prescribe treatment for those conditions where those medications may

have positive impacts on your memory.


Therapy is a crucial component of depression treatment. Your therapist helps you with cognitive behavioral techniques that help you gain control over your thoughts and emotions. Using cognitive-emotional training, you can track your thoughts and emotions and keep them focused on the task at hand.

Coping Strategies

In addition to medications and cognitive-emotional training, you also need to adopt some coping strategies to ramp up your attention and focus. These strategies include:

Get more exercise: Exercise improves blood flow to the brain and energizes you for a task. Furthermore, regular exercise helps to regulate blood sugar, keeping it within normal range. At least 30 minutes of mild exercise five times a week is recommended. Also, exercise generally has enormous benefits for mental health including reduced stress levels, which also impairs concentration.

Practice Meditation: Mindfulness keeps your mind in the present moment and the more you practice it, the greater your brain’s capacity to process information and focus on a task. You can start with shorter meditation exercises and work your way up to longer ones as you can tolerate.

You can also practice grounding exercises such as focusing your mind on a mental game or a selected object among many. This consolidates your mind’s ability to focus and concentrate on the present task.

Stay Organized

To get your focus revved up, you need to be organized. Keep a list of daily to-do lists, keep timelines for each task and cross them off once you are completed. A to-do list keeps reminds you of what needs to be done during the day, preventing distractions. It may help to switch your phones and mobile devices off to minimize distractions.

Furthermore, set a quiet part of your home for reading to avoid distractions. You may also set aside a quiet area for having conversations with others.


People with depression often struggle concentrating on a current task. They may find that they wonder away when reading a book or watching a favorite TV show. While this does not sound unusual even for healthy people, it can be persistent and debilitating in people with depression. However, with medications, cognitive-behavioural training, and effective coping skills, you can boost your attention span and your brain’s ability to process information more efficiently.


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This is not an emergency service. Same day consults are not available. If you are in distress please contact your nearest emergency department, your local area mental health service triage or dial "000".  

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