Cognitive impairment in major depressive disorder (MDD), including remitted major depressive disorder, raises the question whether these cognitive defects are part of preexisting vulnerability or a consequence of the disorder or its treatment. The purpose of this study was to compare (via meta-analysis) cognitive performance between individuals with and without family history of major depressive disorder.

.Across 284 measures of cognition in 54 non-overlapping samples including 3246 relatives of people with MDD and 5222 controls, relatives of people with MDD performed worse than controls across all measures of cognition. Domain-specific meta-analyses showed similar size of relative-control difference in most domains of cognition, including Full-Scale IQ, verbal intelligence, perceptual intelligence, memory, academic performance, and language.

The authors concluded that a general impairment in cognition is a feature of familial disposition for major depressive disorder. They suggest that cognition may contribute to early risk identification for depression and may represent a target for early intervention.

MacKenzie LE, Uher R and Pavolva B: Cognitive Performance in First-Degree Relatives of Individuals With vs Without Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print, Dec. 26, 2018; doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3672.]

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