Quality of Life in Depression Is Associated With Cognition

woman holding her head in her hands facing woman counselor
Investigators found data that showed there is a correlation between memory deficits and mental quality of life in patients with major depressive disorder.

While cognition does not impact physical quality of life (QoL) in patients with mood disorders, poor immediate and delayed memory is an indicator for reduced mental QoL in patients with lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD) and those with a history of depression, a study in Comprehensive Psychiatry suggests.

The study examined data from the cross-sectional Cognitive Function and Mood Study (COFAMS) which looked at the emotional, cognitive, and functional cognitive status of people with mood disorders. In this analysis of the COFAMS study, researchers included data from participants who were acutely depressed and experienced major symptoms of MDD (n = 93), remitted patients with a history of MDD (n = 170), and healthy controls (n = 124).

Only participants who completed QoL measures on the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and measures of cognitive functioning (Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status, the Colorado Assessment Tests, and the Psychology Experiment Building Language) were included.

Overall, there was no significant association between physical QoL scores on the SF-36 with composite cognitive domains (all P >.025). There were positive associations, however, between mental QoL and immediate memory (β = 0.147, P =.006), delayed memory (β = 0.170, P =.002), and executive function (β = 0.14, P =.006).

Although there was a relationship between delayed memory (β = 0.286, P <.001) and immediate memory (β = 0.253, P =.006) with mental QoL in healthy participants with no history of MDD, this control population had unimpaired QoL levels according to the SF-36.

In addition, immediate memory (β = 0.165, P =.003) and delayed memory (β = 0.157, P =.003) held significant positive associations with mental QoL in participants with lifetime MDD. In patients with current MDD there were also significant positive associations between mental QoL and delayed memory (β = 0.34, P =.002) and immediate memory (β = 0.281, P =.012).

Limitations of the study include the small sample size in each population subgroup, as well as the exploratory nature of the analysis. The study’s researchers suggest that external validation of their findings is warranted.

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The investigators emphasized that the “present findings suggest that interventions targeting memory may be more effective during the acute, as opposed to remitted, stage of MDD.”

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Knight MJ, Lyrtzis E, Baune BT. The association of cognitive deficits with mental and physical quality of life in major depressive disorder [published online December 7, 2019]. Compr Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2019.152147