Major depression is associated with impairment of cognitive functions, and especially higher-order cognitive processes referred to as executive functions (EF). Whether this is a general finding is unclear. Patients without EF impairment may have different treatment needs than patients with EF impairment, and will probably have a better everyday functioning. Thus, it is important to identify the prevalence and characteristics of depressed patients without EF impairment. Forty-three patients with recurrent major depressive disorder (19-51 years) and 50 healthy controls were included in the study. The subjects were assessed with neuropsychological tests selected to measure central areas of EF, and screened on clinical and demographic variables. Within the depressed group, a total of 56% were defined as EF unimpaired. These patients were characterised by higher intellectual abilities and fewer depression episodes than the subgroup of patients with EF impairment. The subgroups were similar in age at debut of illness, severity of depression, general psychopathology and global level of functioning. In conclusion, about half of patients with recurrent major depression have normal EF. Since cognitive impairment and depressive symptomatology seem to be distinct dimensions, a neuropsychological investigation could help to ensure optimal treatment in patients with recurrent major depression.
BACKGROUND: Early detection programmes aim to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) by public education and by prompt access to treatment via active outreach detection teams. AIMS: To determine whether those with first-episode psychosis in an early detection healthcare area with existing referral channels differ from those who access care via detection teams. METHOD: Those with first-episode psychosis recruited via detection teams were compared with those accessing treatment via conventional channels, at baseline and after 3 months of acute treatment. RESULTS: Patients recruited via detection teams are younger males with a longer DUP, a less dramatic symptom picture and better functioning; however they recover more slowly, and have more symptoms at 3-month follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: After establishing low threshold active case-seeking detection teams, we found clear differences between those patients entering treatment via detection teams v. those obtaining treatment via the usual channels. Such profiling may be informative for early detection service development.
Studies of localized brain dysfunctions have revealed connections between patterns of cognitive dysfunction and specific profiles of memory impairment. The amnesic type of memory impairment is defined by deficits in both free recall and recognition memory, whereas the dysexecutive memory impairment is characterized by retrieval deficits, i.e. a disproportional impairment in free recall relative to recognition memory. The present study tests whether classifications of psychiatric patients into recall impaired only (= RO group) and Recall and Recognition impaired (= RR group) correspond to the executive type and amnesic type of memory impairment. The alternative hypothesis is that the two groups merely differ in degree of neuropsychological and psychiatric disturbance. Forty-four subjects impaired on California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) were selected from a larger database of 103 impaired and non-impaired subjects with schizophrenia or recurrent major depression. Subjects were classified into RO and RR groups and compared on measures of memory strategy (recency effect and interference on CVLT), overall neuropsychological function (Stroop Test and WAIS-R similarity) and psychiatric symptom load (positive and negative symptoms). Repeated measures ANOVA showed no effects of group, i.e. the RR group did not perform consistently below the RO group with regard to memory strategy, neuropsychological function or psychiatric symptom load. Two out of three analyses showed group x test interaction, supporting the dissociation of distinct executive and amnesic profiles among psychiatric patients. The RO group was more susceptible to interference but had better recency score than the RR group. The RO had higher negative symptoms while the RR group had higher positive symptoms.