Depressive Symptoms and Longitudinal Changes in Cognition

Women's Health Initiative Study of Cognitive Aging

Published in: Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, v. 27, no. 2, June 2014, p. 94-102

Posted on RAND.org on May 19, 2014

by Joseph S. Goveas, Mark A Espeland, Patricia E. Hogan, Hilary A. Tindle, Regina A. Shih, Jane M. Kotchen, Jennifer G. Robinson, Deborah E. Barnes, Susan M. Resnick

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Elevated depressive symptoms (DS) are associated with incident mild cognitive impairment and probable dementia in postmenopausal women. We examined the association of elevated DS with domain-specific cognitive changes and the moderating role of cardiovascular risk factor severity and cardiovascular disease (CVD). A total of 2221 elderly women who participated in the Women's Health Initiative Study of Cognitive Aging were separated into those with (N = 204) and without (N = 2017) elevated DS. The DS and multidomain cognitive outcomes were measured annually for an average follow-up of 5.04 years. Women with elevated DS showed baseline multidomain cognitive deficits but longitudinal declines in global cognition only. Persistent DS was related to greater global cognition, verbal knowledge and fluency, and memory declines. Significant DS-CVD interactions were observed cross-sectionally (but not longitudinally) for figural memory and fine motor speed. Future studies should investigate the role of nonvascular mechanisms linking DS and cognitive decline.

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