MDD and Neurocognitive Impairment

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Major depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder’s clinical neurocognitive profile and its association with cognitive abnormalities were examined in a literature review.

MDD and Neurocognitive Impairment
MDD and Neurocognitive Impairment

Neurocognitive/cognitive impairment, persisting (long-lasting), euthymic (remission), and remission are all terminology used in the same study published between 2010 and 2020. They compiled a list of 70 papers, which included both cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations, as well as meta-analyses and reviews.

They used the state (cognitive deficits are caused by the depressive symptom state), trait (a preexisting neurocognitive vulnerability increases the risk of developing depression), and scar (neurotoxic aspects of depression causes irreversible cognitive impairment) hypotheses in their analysis of these studies.

Upon analyzing the research, the researchers found that evidence suggests that people with depression may suffer from a variety of cognitive deficits including short-term memory loss, especially as they grow older, executive dysfunction, attention deficits, both while depressed and as a long-term symptom, and processing speed problems, which were found to be the most severe.

The researchers also noted that attentional deficits are likely to impact results across the other categories; that the role of attentional deficits in the development of episodes and relapses remains unclear; and that the neurocognitive profiles for memory and executive functioning are nonspecific and nonconclusive.

They observed that even while it is possible to explain MDD’s lingering cognitive symptoms using scar, state, and trait profiles; the literature continues to oversimplify its origin and involvement in the neurocognitive profile.

Future research on the neurocognitive profile of depression should shift focus from domain level to aspect level in cognitive functioning; take a more nuanced diagnostic approach to depression labels (rather than considering them a single group with no differentiation related to factors such as age, onset, duration, etc.); and incorporate a focus on potential origins of depression onset for studies that include patient-participation.

To avoid relapse, additional episodes, and a higher risk of neurodegenerative illnesses in later life, the researchers concluded that “defining the neurocognitive profiles in depression could have major ramifications” when creating novel treatments to tackle cognitive residual symptoms.

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