To examine associations between cognitive deficits and persistent significant depressive symptoms at baseline and 2- and 4-year follow-ups in a sample of community-dwelling middle-aged and older adults.DESIGN
Prospective cohort study.SETTING
A U.S. national prospective cohort study of middle-aged and older adults, the Health and Retirement Study.PARTICIPANTS
A sample of 661 participants of the 1996 wave of the Health and Retirement Study who met criteria for 12-month Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised major depression (MD).MEASUREMENTS
MD was assessed using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview—Short Form. Persistent significant depressive symptoms were assessed using an eight-item version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale.RESULTS
Cognitive deficits were associated with persistent significant depressive symptoms at follow-up. In a latent state-trait analysis, two stable and strongly correlated traits best explained variations in cognitive functioning and depressive symptoms across assessment points.CONCLUSION
Trait-like cognitive deficits commonly complicate the course of MD in community-dwelling middle-aged and older adults and may help to explain the persistent course of depressive symptoms in a large subgroup of adults with MD in this age range.