The diagnosis of depression typically indicates a condition of sadness, irritability, and a loss of pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyable. Trouble concentrating or a lack of focus may be the worst of the symptoms, however, because a loss of productivity can lead to job loss and relationship issues.
Being unable to focus at work and a lack of concentration is often associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD). But when concentration problems are actually due to ADD and not depression, the lack of focus probably has been present for a while. It would not appear coincidentally with a depressive episode.
Antidepressants don’t directly treat a lack of concentration, but alleviating depression certainly helps with ability to focus. Exercise and talk therapy, be it cognitive behavioral or psychotherapeutic, are also known to help with concentration difficulties.
Medical health expert Dr. Charles Raison, a psychiatrist at Emory University Medical School, writes in a CNN blog, “Antidepressants don’t improve memory or concentration, per se. But anything that makes your depression go away will fix your cognitive difficulties precisely because they are part of the depression.”
Studies have shown that the link between focus and depression also works in the other direction. One hour a week of “focus practice,” or progressive self-focus meditation, for five weeks was found to significantly decrease scores on the Beck Depression Inventory and increase attention capacities as compared to controls. Training yourself to focus through meditation can help with depression. Similarly, MyBrainSolutions’ “Thinking” training can be used to increase attention capacities and help alleviate concentration troubles that often accompany depression.