Healthcare professionals should question patients with depression on their cognitive function, after a survey found that many of these symptoms are not being picked up.
A survey, carried out by the Depression Alliance, of 200 patients who had experienced depression found that 99% of respondents reported that they had symptoms of cognitive dysfunction during an episode of depression. These include difficulty concentrating, slowed thought processing, difficulty planning and organising, and indecisiveness and forgetfulness.
However, only half of those surveyed said that they had been asked about any of these symptoms by a healthcare professional.The Depression Alliance has said that, as research has shown that improving cognitive symptoms can significantly improve the chance of recovery from depression, many patients may not receive treatment for the condition.
Emer O'Neill, chief executive of the Depression Alliance, said: ‘If we hope to provide the best chance of recovery for all those with depression, it is important that treatment pathways continue to evolve and take into account all aspects of this complex disorder, treating both mood and cognitive dysfunction.'
Cognitive dysfunction was found to have a severe impact on the lives of people experiencing depression. According to the survey, 45% said that their cognitive dysfunction affected their day-to-day lives as much as the emotional symptoms of depression. Just 3% of respondents said their cognitive dysfunction had no impact on their work life, while 15% said that they had lost a job due to symptoms of cognitive dysfunction.
Ms O’Neill added: ‘Although the impact of depression on mood is generally well understood by both healthcare professionals and the public, the impact of cognitive dysfunction, such as memory and decision making is very often underestimated. These symptoms can damage peoples’ confidence and cause them to withdraw from both their personal and professional lives. We hope that these findings will begin to increase understanding and awareness of cognitive dysfunction.’