Cognitive Performance in Non-Psychotic Non-Suicidal Unipolar Depressed Patients

Marco Moniz

Abstract

Background: Cognitive impairment is central in depression and executive dysfunctions in patients with depression are frequent. However, little attention has been paid to the specificities of executive changes in patients with unipolar depression, though these modifications may have serious implications for psychosocial functions and treatment of these patients.
Goals: To compare neuropsychological performance, regarding executive functions, of two adult groups: non-psychotic non-suicide attempters with unipolar depression and healthy individuals.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study with data collected in an outpatient clinic of mental health service of a general hospital. We
compared a group of non-psychotic non-suicidal unipolar depressed patients to a group of individuals without depression. Depressed subjects were controlled for prior suicidal attempts, and their neuropsychological profile was assessed using a range of measures of attention, verbal fluency, memory, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning (planning, decision making, set shifting, response inhibition, and inhibitory control).
Results: The group with depression (n=23) was significantly outperformed by the group of healthy individuals (n=23) in all measures. Also, differences in the executive functions of planning, decision making, set shifting, and inhibitory control were confirmed. We were unable to identify differences between non-suicidal individuals with depression and individuals without depression in terms of response inhibition, as has been the case in previous studies with samples with suicidal unipolar depressive patients.
Discussion: These results reinforce the hypothesis that there are specific alterations in patients with depression and highlight the need to develop specific cognitive rehabilitation programs for this population.

Keywords

Unipolar depression, Executive dysfunction, Attention, Verbal fluency, Psychomotor speed.

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