Residual cognitive impairments in remitted depressed patients

Depress Anxiety. 2008;25(6):E27-36. doi: 10.1002/da.20391.


Depressive disorders are associated with various cognitive impairments. Studies on whether or not these impairments persist into the euthymic phase have shown conflicting results, due to differences in test versions and in study samples. In this paper, we aimed to compare the cognitive performance of remitted depressed patients with that of age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers across a wide range of cognitive domains. In two studies, we found few differences on neutral as well as emotional information processing tests. The findings indicate that remitted depressed patients who use antidepressant medication still show an increased recognition of facial expression of fear compared to healthy controls. Patients also performed worse on a test of recognition of abstract visual information from long-term memory. No other residual cognitive impairments were found. These results indicate that most of the cognitive impairments associated with depression resolve with recovery through medication, even when recovery is incomplete. Considering the finding that remitted depressed patients have higher levels of cognitive reactivity, future studies may investigate the possibility that these cognitive impairments have not resolved but have become latent, and may therefore easily be triggered by small changes in mood state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use*
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Color Perception / drug effects
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Facial Expression
  • Fear / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / drug effects
  • Personality Inventory
  • Problem Solving / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Retention, Psychology / drug effects
  • Semantics


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation