Depression can take its toll on a person. It can cause a person to lose weight, sleep, productivity, and hope in the future. But when someone experiencing depression finally emerges from that dark place and is able to resume functioning, he or she may still have some lingering effects. Being in remission from depression is characterized by not exhibiting any of the major symptoms of the condition. Although there has been a broad range of studies examining how depression affects cognitive functioning, few studies have looked at how the cognitive functioning of people in remission compares to that of people with no history of depression. To explore this further, Bo Jacob Hasselbalch of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark recently led a study involving 38 individuals in remission from depression and 50 control participants.
Prior to testing, the researcher determined that all of the 38 individuals were indeed in remission and not currently experiencing any clinical symptoms of depression. Each participant was then put through a series of cognitive tests designed to measure various aspects of cognitive functioning. Hasselbalch found that the individuals in remission from depression performed more poorly than the control participants. This was especially evident in the area of attention and especially strong on the results of the Stroop task. But additional deficits, although less noticeable, also appeared in measures of cognitive malleability, speed, and visual-perceptual processing. These findings demonstrate that individuals who are in remission from depression may still experience potential trait impairments in cognitive functioning. Hasselbalch believes these may be primarily trait related because the deficits were most pronounced in attention tasks, but future work will need to be done to confirm this. “Cognitive deficits are present in patients with unipolar depressive disorder in the remitted state,” Hasselbalch surmised.
Hasselbalch, Bo Jacob, Ulla Knorr, Steen Gregers Hasselbalch, Anders Gade, and Lars Vedel Kessing. Cognitive deficits in the remitted state of unipolar depressive disorder. Neuropsychology 26.5 (2012): 642-51. Print.
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