alexa Unique and Interactive Effect of Anxiety and Depressive
ISSN: 2167-1044

Journal of Depression and Anxiety
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Research Article

Unique and Interactive Effect of Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms on Cognitive and Brain Function in Young and Older Adults

Vonetta M Dotson1,2*, Sarah M Szymkowicz1, Joshua W Kirton1, Molly E McLaren1, Mackenzie L Green1 and Jessica Y Rohani1
1Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, University of Florida, USA
2Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida, USA
*Corresponding Author : Vonetta Dotson
Department of Clinical & Health
Psychology, University of Florida
P.O. Box 100165, Gainesville
FL, USA, 32610-0165
Tel: +1 (352) 273-6041
Fax: +1 (352) 273-6156
E-mail: [email protected]
Received December 23, 2013; Accepted January 20, 2014; Published January 24, 2014
Citation: Dotson VM, Szymkowicz SM, Kirton JW, McLaren ME, Green ML, et al. (2014) Unique and Interactive Effect of Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms on Cognitive and Brain Function in Young and Older Adults. J Depress Anxiety S1:003. doi:10.4172/2167-1044.S1-003
Copyright: © 2014 Dotson VM, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
 

Abstract

Objective: Depression and anxiety are associated with cognitive deficits and brain changes, especially in older adults. Despite the frequent co-occurrence of these conditions, cognitive neuroscience studies examining comorbid depression and anxiety are limited. The goal of the present study was to examine the unique and combined effect of depressive and anxiety symptoms on cognitive and brain functioning in young and older adults. Methods: Seventy-one healthy, community-dwelling adults between the ages of 18 and 81 were administered a neuropsychological battery and completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the trait form of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T). A subset of 25 participants also underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning while completing the n-back working memory task. Results: Total depressive symptoms, depressed mood symptoms, and somatic symptoms were associated with deficits in speed, working memory and executive functions, especially in older adults. Symptoms of lack of well-being were not associated with any neuropsychological test. Anxiety was associated with better attention and working memory. Moreover, anxiety modified the relationship between depressive symptoms and executive functioning in older adults, as elevated depressive symptoms were associated with worse performance at low levels of anxiety, but not at higher anxiety levels. Similarly, analysis of fMRI data showed that total depressive symptoms and depressed mood symptoms were associated with decreased activity in the superior frontal gyrus at low anxiety levels, but not at high anxiety levels. Conclusion: Results confirm previous reports that subthreshold depression and anxiety impact cognitive and brain functioning and suggest that the interaction of depression and anxiety results in distinct cognitive and brain changes. Findings highlight the importance of assessing and controlling for symptoms of depression and studies of either condition.

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