Neuropsychological performance in a sample of 13-25 year olds with a history of non-psychotic major depressive disorder
Abstract Background There is evidence for neuropsychological dysfunction in depression among adult and elderly participants but little research has been conducted on the neuropsychological functioning of youth with depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the neuropsychological functioning of outpatient young participants with depression. Methods Computerised neuropsychological tests requiring executive functioning, working memory, attention, verbal memory and learning, planning, and visuospatial skills were carried out in a sample of 13–25 year-olds with a lifetime history of non-psychotic major depression (n = 32) and in healthy age balanced controls (n = 65). Psychiatric diagnoses were ascertained using the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Results Participants with current or previous major depressive disorder demonstrated impairments in executive function tasks requiring conceptual skills and set-shifting, attention and working memory. However, planning skills were found to be largely intact. Positive affect was associated to better attention, working memory and verbal learning in depressed participants, independently from gender and education. Limitations The results may be affected by the small sample size and heterogeneity of the sample. Conclusion The findings from this study indicate, and are one of the first to identify, that young subjects aged between 13 and 25, with a lifetime history of depression, have impaired executive and working memory functioning.