Author(s): Fossati P, Coyette F, Ergis AM, Allilaire JF, Fossati P, Coyette F, Ergis AM, Allilaire JF
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Despite many studies demonstrating memory and executive impairments in young and old depressed patients, the relationships between age, executive functioning and memory have not been evaluated in depression. The aim of this study was to investigate if older patients were more vulnerable than younger patients to the impact of depression on memory and if the differences between young and old depressed could be related to executive functioning. METHODS: Forty-nine inpatients, with unipolar and bipolar depression, ranging in age from 19 to 72 years were compared with 70 controls on a verbal memory task. Age cut-off of 45 years was used as a categorical variable to divide subjects into subgroups. A subset of patients (n=41) was also evaluated with the modified version of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and separated into a non-dysexecutive group and a group of patients with mild-executive impairment. RESULTS: Depressed patients exhibited memory deficits with a pattern of memory failure -- impaired free recall and normal cued recall and recognition -- interpreted as a retrieval problem. Both age and executive function influenced memory performance in depression, however neither group x age interaction nor age x executive status interaction were significant. Multiple regression analysis showed that free recall scores were related to age and psychomotor retardation in depressed patients. CONCLUSION: Age and executive functioning have different influences on the memory performance of depressed patients. Our findings support an 'executive memory decline hypothesis' in young as well as old depressed patients. The memory deficits in depression may be associated with both trait and state factors and raise questions about the long-term cognitive functioning of patients with recurrent affective disorders.
This article was published in J Affect Disord
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry