Predicting antidepressant response using early changes in cognition: A systematic review

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Background:Despite the widespread use of antidepressants in clinical practice, the current trial-and-error approach to medication selection contributes to treatment failure and underscores the need to identify reliable predictors of antidepressant response. Since changes in measures of cognition have been reported to occur early in treatment and prior to improvements in overall mood symptoms, the present review aims to determine whether early changes in measures of cognition can predict response in individuals with MDD.Methods:A systematic review of studies evaluating early cognitive change as a predictor of later treatment response in MDD was conducted using PubMed/Medline, Embase and PsychINFO.Results:A total of seven articles were identified. The available evidence suggests the early changes in cognition may predict treatment response in individuals with MDD. This was shown across antidepressant classes (i.e., SSRIs, SNRIs, NRIs, melatonergic antidepressants) and forms of therapy (i.e., pharmacotherapy, rTMS). The results depict an emerging trend towards early changes in facial emotion recognition (i.e., a hot cognitive process) as a predictor of treatment outcome.Limitations:Our qualitative analysis reflects a very limited number of studies. Moreover, there was significant heterogeneity in the evaluation of cognition across studies. Future research should aim to parse out this heterogeneity by evaluating the relative predictive value of different measures of cognition.Conclusion:The identification of reliable early treatment predictors of antidepressant response would be clinically significant, enabling clinicians to more accurately evaluate the efficacy of selected treatment avenues.HIGHLIGHTSCognitive dysfunction is a principal feature and determinant of health outcome in MDD.Cognitive changes have shown to occur prior to improvements in mood symptoms.Early changes in emotional processing may predict treatment response in MDD.

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