Differences in the cognitive profile of depression between racial groups.

07 Mar 2018

BACKGROUND: There is little research concerning whether race is associated with different clinical presentations of psychiatric disorders. Understanding the racial aspects of cognitive differences among depressed adults could help identify specific targets for depression treatment. METHODS: We recruited 59 participants (52.5% white, 47.5% African American), age 18 to 60, with a current diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). All participants underwent a cognitive battery that included tasks assessing decision-making, response inhibition, working memory, and executive planning. Differences between white and African American groups were analyzed using analysis of variance or equivalent nonparametric tests. RESULTS: There were no differences in demographic variables of age, sex, and education, but white individuals reported a significantly earlier age of first depressive episode compared with African American individuals. The African American group, however, showed significantly lower quality of decision-making and less risk adjustment on the Cambridge Gambling Task, and made more errors on the Spatial Working Memory task. CONCLUSIONS: Our finding that specific cognitive domains differ as a function of racial differences in MDD might have differential prognostic and treatment implications.