Patients with depression often suffer from cognitive impairments that contribute to disease burden. We used social defeat–induced persistent stress (SDPS) to induce a depressive-like state in rats and then studied long-lasting memory deficits in the absence of acute stressors in these animals. The SDPS rat model showed reduced short-term object location memory and maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP) in CA1 pyramidal neurons of the dorsal hippocampus. SDPS animals displayed increased expression of synaptic chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in the dorsal hippocampus. These effects were abrogated by a 3-week treatment with the antidepressant imipramine starting 8 weeks after the last defeat encounter. Next, we observed an increase in the number of perineuronal nets (PNNs) surrounding parvalbumin-expressing interneurons and a decrease in the frequency of inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in the hippocampal CA1 region in SDPS animals. In vivo breakdown of the hippocampus CA1 extracellular matrix by the enzyme chondroitinase ABC administered intracranially restored the number of PNNs, LTP maintenance, hippocampal inhibitory tone, and memory performance on the object place recognition test. Our data reveal a causal link between increased hippocampal extracellular matrix and the cognitive deficits associated with a chronic depressive-like state in rats exposed to SDPS.