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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 38 (1996) 5

New research

The influence of depression on cognitive functions

W. Steenkamp, H. Kwakman, J. Dekker, M. Courant

Cognitive functions (intelligence, attention and memory) of 67 depressive out patients were assessed prior to a drug therapy. We investigated if severity of depression (as measured by Hamilton's Depression Rating Scale) affected the results of neuropsychological testing. Gender differences were taken into consideration.

Results showed for the total group an effect of severity of depression on intelligence. Regarding attention and memory, results showed significant group differences between men and women. For women severity of depression affected the performance on neuropsychological tests, for men it didn't. Presently it is not clear if this is a matter of `true' differences or if the relatively small number of men influenced the results.

After eight weeks of drug therapy, sixteen patients were tested again. The improved performances on different tests could not be attributed to the recovery from depression.