Depression is a common and disabling condition in older adults associated with
increased medical complaint and mortality. Depression in late-life may be
accompanied by significant cognitive deficit, at least in a proportion of individuals.
The basis ofthis deficit is unclear but permanent structural brain change and/or
reversible mood-state deficiency have been suggested.
Three groups ofolder adults comprising currently depressed individuals, individuals
previously depressed but now recovered and individuals with no previous history of
depression were assessed and compared using the WAIS-III.
Difficulties relating to accurate definitions of change points across illness are
highlighted and, in particular, the consistent measurement ofrecovery from
depression. It was however tentatively proposed that recovery from depression is
associated with the reversal ofcognitive deficit, at least in the majority of cases.
Depressed older adults demonstrated a WAIS-III profile indicative of broad cognitive
deficit across the Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Organisation, Working Memory
and Processing Speed Indices. Processing speed appeared to be particularly impaired
by the presence of depression.
Results are considered in relation to explanations of such deficit previously offered in
the research. Suggestions are offered for future research and, in particular, the areas
ofprocessing speed, attention and formal classification ofbehavioural observations on