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depression and learning


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I have a question about depression and it's long term effects on learning. I have been on anti-depressants since 1997. My question is that I have had terrible time trying to learn a second language. I have been plugging away at in on and off for 18 years. I posted a question on a site dedicated to those people who study or who have matered the language. Many of the respondents to my question seemed to believe that if I have not been able to master the language after so many years I must have a problem. I know in the throes of a severe depression that cognitive abilities don't function well, but what about when I am on meds, or ever before I was officially diagnosed with depression. I guess I would like to know if a mood disorder can limit one's ability to learn something that others seem to do some much easier?


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Two questions, PP: Do you speak any other languages, other than English, and what age did you start learning the language in question?

In my case, I was forced to learn French at age 8, and acquired it quickly, but as an adult, struggled to pick up even a few words of Mandarin Chinese, despite being married to a native speaker. I think age has a lot to do with it, or at least it did for me.

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Malign raises good questions, age is a factor as well as previous learning of other languages. I picked up English in my teens and others in my family late into their 30's-- and English is tough to learn b/c it makes little sense (ask anyone trying to learn it as a second language:D).

But to be more specific, depression is believed to be correlated (no one is sure if this is a correlation or causation) with lowered levels of catecholamines (particularly norepinephrine), which affects learning. For really exciting reading (nah), hit CATECHOLOMINE HYPOTHESIS AND MOOD on the web and you should be able to learn more. I just happen to remember this from school nearly 20 years ago, but it hasn't changed muc since then.

Depression is tough to live with, especially for as long as you've been struggling with it. And not being able to learn quickly can only make things more frustrating for you. Some antidepressants can affect the catecholomines. Read up on the one you're on and it should tell you which neurotransmitters are affected.

Good luck and I hope this helps. By the way, the Rosetta Stone CD's are excellent (but they're expensive, even on Ebay).

Edited by David O
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Good morning Patpaul,

Paxil primarily blocks the uptake of serotonin into human platelets. It has only very weak effects on norepinephrine and dopamine neuronal reuptake-- to nuerotransmitters connected to learning. Talk to you psychiatrist and see if there can be a safe switch made to another SSRI (the drug type for Paxil), and then see what happens.

My thinking also is to ask if you have daily structured learning times and places, a partner that speaks the language, proven learning strategies, etc. All of this will help a bunch too. It may not all be the depression and meds.

Good luck and I hope this helps.

Edited by David O
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