Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2016 Feb;14(1):1-16. 10.9758/cpn.2016.14.1.1.

Cognitive Deficits as a Mediator of Poor Occupational Function in Remitted Major Depressive Disorder Patients

  • 1Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.


Cognitive deficits in major depressive disorder (MDD) patients have been described in numerous studies. However, few reports have aimed to describe cognitive deficits in the remitted state of MDD and the mediational effect of cognitive deficits on occupational outcome. The aim of the current review is to synthesize the literature on the mediating and moderating effects of specific domains of cognition on occupational impairment among people with remitted MDD. In addition, predictors of cognitive deficits found to be vocationally important will be examined. Upon examination of the extant literature, attention, executive function and verbal memory are areas of consistent impairment in remitted MDD patients. Cognitive domains shown to have considerable impact on vocational functioning include deficits in memory, attention, learning and executive function. Factors that adversely affect cognitive function related to occupational accommodation include higher age, late age at onset, residual depressive symptoms, history of melancholic/psychotic depression, and physical/psychiatric comorbidity, whereas higher levels of education showed a protective effect against cognitive deficit. Cognitive deficits are a principal mediator of occupational impairment in remitted MDD patients. Therapeutic interventions specifically targeting cognitive deficits in MDD are needed, even in the remitted state, to improve functional recovery, especially in patients who have a higher risk of cognitive deficit.


Depression; Remission; Cognition; Occupational outcome
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