Several reports suggest that antidepressants may improve cognitive functioning in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). The present work aims to study the effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonergic-noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) treatments on the performance of working memory, attention and executive functions in patients with MDD. A total of 73 subjects meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version IV (DSM-IV) criteria for MDD, and 37 control subjects were assessed with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and a neuropsychological battery. The subjects were medicated with escitalopram (n=36) or duloxetine (n=37) for 24 weeks. At the end of the trial, the subjects were assessed again with the same tests. The depressed subjects showed alterations in attention and cognitive functions when compared to the control group. The administration of both treatments improved working memory, as well as attention and all the executive functions, but the cognitive functions of depressed patients do not improve enough to reach the levels of performance of the control subjects. Our results suggest that both SSRI and SNRI treatments presented the same efficacy in improving attention and the remaining executive functions.
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