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Psychol Aging. 2009 Jun;24(2):507-12. doi: 10.1037/a0016035.

The association of anxiety and depressive symptoms with cognitive performance in community-dwelling older adults.

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Sierra Pacific Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA.


The authors examined the association of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and their co-occurrence on cognitive processes in 102 community-dwelling older adults. Participants completed anxiety and depression questionnaires as well as measures of episodic and semantic memory, word fluency, processing speed/shifting attention, and inhibition. Participants with only increased anxiety had poorer processing speed/shifting attention and inhibition, but depressive symptoms alone were not associated with any cognitive deficits. Although coexisting anxiety and depressive symptoms were associated with deficits in 3 cognitive domains, reductions in inhibition were solely attributed to anxiety. Findings suggest an excess cognitive load on inhibitory ability in normal older adults reporting mild anxiety.

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