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Unpacking Executive Dysfunction in Depression

Reviewed by Dawn Brown, LPC, NCC · December 07, 2020 ·

Depression is a serious mental health issue that impacts the lives of millions of people around the world. There are many different types of depression, and it’s pretty common for someone to experience at least mild depression symptoms from time to time. Some people have bigger problems with depression than others, though. When people have depression disorders, it’s going to make it tougher for them in various ways. Some people who deal with depression also wind up experience problems with executive dysfunction. You might not be familiar with the term executive dysfunction, but it’s actually very simple.

To understand executive dysfunction, you’re going to first need to learn what executive functions are. This phrase refers to actions that you take, such as organizing things, planning, coming up with strategies, time management skills, your ability to remember information, and how well you pay attention. These are basic executive functions that you start developing as early as age two, and by the time you’re thirty years old, your executive function abilities should be fully formed. People going through depression issues might have a tough time with some of these things, often referred to as executive dysfunction depression.

Read on to get more information about executive dysfunction depression. You’ll be able to learn more about why this happens to people, how it can impact your life, and what can be done to mitigate these issues. If you’re having issues with executive dysfunction depression right now, then don’t fret. You can do many things to try to turn things around to have a better experience. It is worthwhile to take the time to learn more so that you can make the best decision for yourself. Once you’ve gathered information, you’ll have a much better idea of how to move forward.

Determine If You’re Depressed

Determining if you’re depressed is going to be the first course of action to take. You might feel like you’re depressed right now, but that doesn’t mean you’re sure whether you need to approach a doctor about your issues. Taking a depression test might be a good thing in this situation because it can give you more information. Taking a depression test doesn’t take long at all, and it can show you how depressed you have been based on your honest answers to a number of different questions. This isn’t supposed to be used in lieu of diagnosis, but it can show you why going to the doctor is a good idea.

Once you’ve decided to make an appointment with your doctor, it’ll be easier to figure things out. Your doctor can examine you and determine what type of depression you are going through. Depending on your symptoms, you might have a specific type of depression that will need to be treated in a particular way. It’s always imperative to get a doctor to diagnose you properly rather than assuming you have depression. Even if it’s easy to tell that you’re feeling depressed, you need a professional to help you determine the right path forward.

Depression And Executive Dysfunction

Depression is something that can have a big impact on executive functions over time. The reasons for this are actually quite varied, and you might have to get more specific information about your situation from your doctor. However, you can just understand that depression impacts your brain, and it also impacts how you think about things. Depression could be causing executive dysfunction because it is impairing your brain and keeping you from focusing properly. It’s also possible that depression can keep your brain from properly developing executive function skills when you’re young, but what has occurred in your case is dependent on your experience.

If you’re going through a bout of depression, you might notice that you won’t have an easy time with certain things. For instance, you might notice that you’re a lot more forgetful than you usually are when you’re depressed. This is because your executive function is being impaired by the depression that you’re experiencing. This can manifest itself in many ways, such as forgetting to take your medication or not remembering where you left your wallet or your phone.

There are a large number of different ways that executive dysfunction can make things tougher for you. When you aren’t able to concentrate on executive functions, it’s going to make it make more mistakes than usual. It was mentioned earlier that your ability to focus and your ability to strategize is tied to executive function, and this can cause you problems. If you can’t focus well, then you might not be able to do well at school or at your place of work. Not being able to come up with strategies very well can limit your problem-solving abilities substantially.

Those experiencing executive dysfunction depression will often wind up having a much tougher time getting through their daily responsibilities. Little things such as remembering names or paying attention during meetings will become that much harder. It’s definitely something that can cause you to become frustrated, and it even has the potential to exacerbate your depression issues. Having things go wrong at school or work could cause you to become that much more depressed, and this is why it is crucial to seek treatment.

Treating Your Depression Helps

Treating your depression really helps a lot when it comes to managing executive dysfunction issues. You can sometimes get executive dysfunction depression completely under control by treating the depressing properly. Working with your doctor to determine the right treatment methods will allow you to proceed. Some people might respond best to taking antidepressant medications, while others might do well to go to therapy for depression issues. You can talk about your experiences with your doctor to develop a sensible path forward that will help you feel more capable again.

Managing depression symptoms is about figuring out what works for you and committing yourself to a routine. You might need to take medications at a certain time each day so that your depression will stay under control. Therapy is a great option because you can actually work through some of the issues that might be causing you to feel depressed. It’s also nice to feel like you have support, and being able to reach out to a therapist at any time is very comforting. Therapy has become very convenient in the modern era due to cost-effective methods such as online therapy. You can get help without even having to leave home now, which makes the most sense for some people.

There are other things that you can do to help mitigate depression problems outside of medical treatments. Simply changing your lifestyle a bit can help you to feel better overall. Many people use exercise to help cope with depression symptoms, and it works well to provide them with a substantial mood boost. You can start to feel happier overall when you exercise regularly, and getting into better shape can also give you better self-confidence.

It’s also highly recommended to turn to your support system when you need help. You should have people in your life that will be there for you when you’re having a hard time. Your support system could include people such as your family, your closest friends, and your significant other. Turning to your support system gives you a chance to vent when you need to, and they can help you in practical ways, too. For instance, you might need help remembering to take your medications if you’re having issues with executive dysfunction. Don’t hesitate to let the people who love you help you when you’re having depression issues.

Developing Executive Functions

It’s also worth noting that some people work to develop better executive function skills over time. If you’re one of the people who have poor executive function skills due to depression, then you can get better over time. Learning how to focus better and learning how to get better at strategizing is possible. In fact, some people work with therapists to get help with things like this. It might take you some time to make significant improvements, but you can get much better over time. You’ll also find that focusing on things will become a lot easier when your depression symptoms are under control.

You don’t have to accept that executive dysfunction depression is simply normal for you. If you’re having a hard time focusing, planning, remembering, or anything else like that, then you can get help. You can develop executive functions to strengthen your abilities over time, but it might be better to focus on treating your depression first. Whatever you decide to do, it’s just good to know that you don’t have to try to go it alone. Depression can be a very complex topic, but it’s not one that needs to be kept to yourself. Some professionals are ready to assist you, and you’re also going to have the support of the people in your life that love you.

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