Depression and memory impairment: a meta-analysis of the association, its pattern, and specificity

Psychol Bull. 1995 Mar;117(2):285-305. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.2.285.


The existing evidence paints an unclear picture of whether an association exists between depression and memory impairment. The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether depression is associated with memory impairment, whether moderator variables determine the extent of this association, and whether any obtained association is unique to depression. Meta-analytic techniques were used to synthesize data from 99 studies on recall and 48 studies on recognition in clinically depressed and nondepressed samples. Associations between memory impairment and other psychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, dementia) were also examined. A significant, stable association between depression and memory impairment was revealed. Further analyses indicated, however, that it is likely that depression is linked to particular aspects of memory, the linkage is found in particular subsets of depressed individuals, and memory impairment is not unique to depression.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenic Psychology