Anxiety, depression and brief measures of cognitive functioning in a community dwelling sample of older adults
Austin, Amie Lynn
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Anxiety and depression can coincide with aging, but the effects of each on cognitive functioning are still under examination. Identification of psychological symptoms is important because many symptoms of anxiety and depression mimic organic disease processes such as dementing illnesses. Neuropsychological assessment can aid in differentiating between true dementing illnesses and functional deficits related to psychological symptoms. Brief screening measures such as the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) are useful in detecting a variety of neurologic or psychiatric disorders and are appropriate for use with adults. The purpose of this retrospective study was to examine the relationships between anxiety, depression and cognitive functioning in an aging sample. Participants included 220 individuals, previously referred for outpatient neuropsychological assessment at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) Neuropsychology Laboratory. Participants were selected from this clinical database based on completion of the MMSE, RBANS, GDS and STAI. Contrary to expectations, anxiety shared only a very modest relationship with decreased overall cognitive performance when demographic variables and depression were held constant. The RBANS Attention Index score also shared a small but significant amount of variance with anxiety and depression.