Depression and Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults
- David C . Steffens
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is frequent in patients with late-life depression. Previous studies indicate that cognitive performance in these patients is not or only marginally improved when they recover from depression. However, recovery from cognitive impairments due to depression may have a longer time course than recovery from affective symptoms. In a group of 34 elderly depressed patients (mean age: 73.4 years) admitted to a gerontopsychiatric day-clinic, severity of depression and cognitive performance were assessed before the initiation of treatment and were reassessed 6 months later. At admission, 18 of 34 patients (53%) fulfilled the criteria for MCI, with a preponderance of impairments in short-term memory and visuospatial capabilities. At the 6-month follow-up, cognitive performance had not significantly improved for the entire group; 12 of 27 patients (44%) still were fulfilling the criteria for MCI. No relationships could be ascertained between cognitive impairment or functional level and severity or course of depression. Patients with diurnal variations of the depressive symptomatology were less likely to fully recover from depression.