Low episodic memory performance as a premorbid marker of depression: evidence from a 3-year follow-up

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007 Jun;115(6):458-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2006.00932.x.


Objective: To examine low episodic memory scores as a potential risk factor for depression.

Method: A population-based sample of non-depressed individuals (20-64 years) were re-examined 3 years after an initial screening (n = 708). At baseline, information on episodic memory scores, demographic and socioeconomic factors, alcohol use and anxiety diagnoses was collected. The data for depression diagnoses were collected at both baseline and follow-up.

Results: Logistic regressions, conducted on three separate study groups that were defined according to three assessments of episodic memory (i.e. free + cued recall, free recall, cued recall) among individuals who scored in the 25 lowest or highest percentiles in the memory tests, revealed that low episodic memory performance defined as the sum of free and cued recalls of organizable words constitutes a risk of depression diagnosis 3 years later.

Conclusion: Low episodic memory performance predated depressive diagnosis and might be considered as a premorbid marker of depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Biomarkers