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Childhood maltreatment and cognitive functioning in patients with major depressive disorder: a CAN-BIND-1 report

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 October 2019

Trisha Chakrabarty*
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Kate L. Harkness
Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
Shane J. McInerney
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Lena C. Quilty
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Roumen V. Milev
Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada
Sidney H. Kennedy
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Benicio N. Frey
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada Mood Disorders Program, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Glenda M. MacQueen
Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Daniel J. Müller
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Susan Rotzinger
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Rudolf Uher
Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
Raymond W. Lam
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Author for correspondence: Trisha Chakrabarty, E-mail:



Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) display cognitive deficits in acutely depressed and remitted states. Childhood maltreatment is associated with cognitive dysfunction in adults, but its impact on cognition and treatment related cognitive outcomes in adult MDD has received little consideration. We investigate whether, compared to patients without maltreatment and healthy participants, adult MDD patients with childhood maltreatment display greater cognitive deficits in acute depression, lower treatment-associated cognitive improvements, and lower cognitive performance in remission.


Healthy and acutely depressed MDD participants were enrolled in a multi-center MDD predictive marker discovery trial. MDD participants received 16 weeks of standardized antidepressant treatment. Maltreatment and cognition were assessed with the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse interview and the CNS Vital Signs battery, respectively. Cognitive scores and change from baseline to week 16 were compared amongst MDD participants with (DM+, n = 93) and without maltreatment (DM−, n = 90), and healthy participants with (HM+, n = 22) and without maltreatment (HM−, n = 80). Separate analyses in MDD participants who remitted were conducted.


DM+ had lower baseline global cognition, processing speed, and memory v. HM−, with no significant baseline differences amongst DM−, HM+, and HM− groups. There were no significant between-group differences in cognitive change over 16 weeks. Post-treatment remitted DM+, but not remitted DM−, scored significantly lower than HM− in working memory and processing speed.


Childhood maltreatment was associated with cognitive deficits in depressed and remitted adults with MDD. Maltreatment may be a risk factor for more severe and persistent cognitive deficits in adult MDD.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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