Apathy Mediates Cognitive Difficulties in Geriatric Depression
Objective Cognitive impairment associated with late-life depression can persist after remission of mood symptoms. Apathy, a common symptom of late-life depression, often leads to worse clinical outcomes. We examined if severity of apathy mediates cognitive difficulties in a cohort of older adults with major depression. Methods One hundred thirty-eight older adults with depression (54.4% female; mean [SD] age: 69.7 [7.4] years; mean [SD] education:15.6 [2.7] years) were recruited to participate in a treatment study, and only baseline data were analyzed. All participants received a comprehensive evaluation of depression, apathy, and cognition. We examined whether apathy mediated the relationship between depression and cognition, focusing our attention on memory and cognitive control. We then explored whether the mediation effects differed across women and men. Results Increased apathy was significantly associated with worse depression and lower performance in the cognitive control domain but not in memory. Higher depressive scores were significantly associated with worse cognitive control but not memory. Mediation analyses revealed a significant indirect effect on cognitive control by depression through increased apathy scores with the mediator accounting for 21% of the total effect. Stratifying by sex, we found that women exhibited a significant indirect effect, with the mediator accounting for 47% of the total effect, whereas there was no mediation by apathy in men. Conclusions The findings imply that increased apathy mediates the relationship between cognition and depression. The identification of mediating effects may inform future treatment strategies and preventive interventions that can focus on decreasing apathy to improve cognition in late-life depression.
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Funes, Cynthia M.; Lavretsky, Helen; Ercoli, Linda; St. Cyr, Natalie; and Siddarth, Prabha, "Apathy Mediates Cognitive Difficulties in Geriatric Depression" (2018). Clinical Neuropsychology. 15.