Depression Messes With Your Ability to Concentrate

March 23, 2014 Liana M. Scott

When depression messes with your ability to concentrate, it's good to have a plan to get better. Here's what I do when depression affects my concentration.

One of the most frustrating symptoms of depression is its ability to mess with your ability to concentrate. Even now, as I write this blog, my mind is flitting from thought to thought, topic to topic, and then to almost empty, blank.

Sometimes, an inability to concentrate can be blamed on tangible distractions: family (spouse, kids, siblings, elderly parents), television, the internet, smartphone (and the endless number of social media sites, games, etc.), online gaming, traffic, pets, chores, work, and friends. Sometimes, it's the intangible distractions - where your brain chemistry inhibits your ability to focus. You could be in an empty room with zero tangible distractions and still, you can't concentrate.

Inability to concentrate on the task at hand breeds procrastination and/or listlessness. Nothing gets accomplished, we begin to feel guilty and useless, and the depression vortex pulls us further in.

For me, when I'm falling into a depression dip, my ability to concentrate is one of the first things to go. It's subliminal, at first - I forget what I was about to do, I can't seem to get through a page in my book, I lose track of what I was talking about. Then, it progresses to where I lose track of where I am when I'm driving, my productivity at work takes a dive, and I get twitchy and easily bored of what I'm doing.

I wish I could say I have an easy technique to help with this. The truth is, I don't. Regaining the ability to concentrate takes concentration - which then makes it almost impossible to achieve.

Three Things to Increase Your Ability to Concentrate

  1. Read. Whether it's a magazine, comic book, novel, cookbook, TV Guide or blog -read! Test yourself frequently while you're reading: did I comprehend the page/article/recipe I just read? Make sure you can answer "yes" before you continue.
  2. Gardening. This is a tricky one for someone (like me) who lives in a place that experiences snowy winters. Still, for at least six months out of the year, I can get out to my garden and concentrate on planting, weeding, watering, and fertilizing. It takes minimal concentration and is hugely relaxing. There's something about getting your hands dirty that's very appealing - becoming one with the earth and all that other philosophical stuff.
  3. Gaming. I'm a terrible gamer, generally speaking. But there is one online game that I play on my smartphone that requires some strategy, an ability to recognize patterns and sometimes, the need to beat the clock.

Understand, I do all these things on a regular basis anyway. The point is that I have a plan, a set of goals/tasks, that I specifically undertake for when depression messes with my ability to concentrate.

APA Reference
Scott, L. (2014, March 23). Depression Messes With Your Ability to Concentrate, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Liana M. Scott

Connect with Liana on Twitter, Instagram, and her site.

June, 30 2014 at 3:41 am

Thanks for this short article. It sums up my situation exactly. The scary thing is when driving, and I think 'what would happen if I keep going without sterring?'. I have come close to doing this several times.

RaRa Loney
March, 30 2014 at 3:43 pm

great read. it's amazing that you have just written what I experience! I can't concentrate, and everything that I do seems to hold my interest for like a second. this was a good article in that you have us focus on making goals for when the depression stirs up the whole tornado tail-spin of lost concentration. I know for me, I have to keep busy, I have to have something that I have to focus on to do, like a chore (cleaning the bathroom, washing the dishes, etc.), or I recently became involved with selling things online and it's actually been quite effective in taking up my time so that depression can't sneak in. thanks for sharing this.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
March, 31 2014 at 6:39 am

Hi RaRa. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog. It's quite a conundrum we face, isn't it? We want to do stuff but our inability to concentration impedes our desires. Selling things online! That's a great one! Thanks for commenting.

March, 29 2014 at 3:00 pm

I try to find time to color. Yup. Coloring helps. I have to focus.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
March, 31 2014 at 6:39 am

That's awesome, Jeff! What do you colour?

John McGuirk
March, 26 2014 at 10:32 am

Starting small and building from there can help, too. Every little achievable step forward can help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
March, 31 2014 at 6:40 am

Absolutely, John!! It's amazing how even a small thing can give you a sense of accomplishment.

March, 25 2014 at 10:55 am

Sometimes I find that working on mindfulness helps to get me focusing on what is in front of me in the moment, takes me away from the depressing thoughts going through my head a little bit and helps me to concentrate. Of course if the depression is too severe it doesn't always work.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Liana Scott
March, 31 2014 at 6:40 am

Hi Emily. What do you mean by "mindfulness"?

Leave a reply