Cognitive dysfunction in major depressive disorder

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Purpose of review

The principal aim of this review is to highlight recent advances in our understanding of cognitive dysfunction in major depressive disorder (MDD). We review new assessment and treatment approaches, in which cognition and associated psychosocial dysfunction are considered primary outcomes.

Recent findings

Current work suggests that cognitive dysfunction reduces occupational productivity, and interferes broadly with domains of day-to-day and social functioning. These findings imply that cognitive dysfunction interacts with emotional and social factors relevant to MDD. Recent advances in screening instruments enable standardized detection of cognitive symptoms in MDD. Clinical trials suggest that cognitive symptoms are suitable targets and primary outcomes of psychological and pharmacological treatments.


A growing interest in cognitive dysfunction in MDD has improved our ability to assess and treat MDD. Future research will be strengthened by the use of consistent terminology, standardized cognitive screening, and treatments that target cognitive dysfunction in MDD. Integration of emotional and social treatment strategies may further advance clinical efficacy.

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