Anxiety is a co-morbidity frequently observed with depression. How does anxiety impact on executive functions and what are the implications of this in depression?

Answered by Philippe Fossati

Executive functions involve a set of cognitive processes that are affected by depression, such as inhibition, updating and set-shifting. Anxiety co-morbid disorders and anxiety symptoms associated with depression may impact on these executive processes. Few studies have directly evaluated the contribution of anxiety to executive impairment in depression.1 However, we can assume that anxiety contributes to dampen executive resources in depressed patients by increasing the severity of depression. Treating the depression, anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders is essential to reduce cognitive problems in depressed patients.

  1. Snyder HR. Major depressive disorder is associated with broad impairments on neuropsychological measures of executive function: a meta-analysis and review. Psychol Bull 2013; 139: 81-132.
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