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Neurocognitive impairment in drug-free patients with major depressive disorder

  • Richard J. Porter (a1), Peter Gallagher (a2), Jill M. Thompson (a2) and Allan H. Young (a2)
Abstract
Background

Although neurocognitive impairment has been widely reported in major depressive disorder (MDD), confounding factors, such as the effects of psychotropic medication, have rarely been controlled for.

Aims

To examine neurocognitive function in medication-free patients with MDD and healthy controls.

Method

Forty-four patients meeting DSM–IV criteria for MDD, all psychotropic-medication-free for at least 6 weeks, and 44 demographically matched, healthy comparison subjects completed a comprehensive neurocognitive battery.

Results

Patients with depression were impaired significantly in a range of cognitive domains, including attention and executive function and visuospatial learning and memory, compared with controls. Motor and psychomotor functions were intact. Severity of depression correlated with learning and memory performance, but not executive function.

Conclusions

Pronounced neurocognitive impairment was found in this sample of young adult out-patients with MDD. This is not attributable to the confounding effects of psychotropic medication and could therefore provide an objective marker of brain dysfunction in depression.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor A. H. Young, Department of Psychiatry, Leazes Wing, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE14LP, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 191 232 5131 (ext. 24258); fax: +44(0) 191 227 5108; e-mail: a.h.young@ncl.ac.uk
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Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
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Neurocognitive impairment in drug-free patients with major depressive disorder

  • Richard J. Porter (a1), Peter Gallagher (a2), Jill M. Thompson (a2) and Allan H. Young (a2)
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