Relative memory deficits in recurrent versus first-episode major depression on a word-list learning task

Neuropsychology. 1999 Oct;13(4):557-63. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.13.4.557.


Although memory deficits are associated with major depressive disorder, few studies have identified which patient characteristics predict impairment. Because recurrent depression appears related to more severe cerebral dysfunction, the present study tested whether recurrent depressed individuals have worse memory function than first-episode depressed individuals. Two groups of young-adult, nonpsychotic, depressed inpatients (20 single episode [SE] and 46 recurrent episode [RE]) were administered the California Verbal Learning Test within a broader battery of neuropsychological tests. The groups were equivalent in age, education, estimated IQ, severity of depression, and demographic composition. The RE group demonstrated memory deficits relative to both the SE group and published norms, but no other significant difference was found across the battery. Data indicate that abnormal memory performance is associated with recurrent depression, whereas memory deficits are not prominent in first-episode depressed individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recurrence
  • Reference Values
  • Verbal Learning*