Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Predict Future Executive Functioning Decline

Andrea Judd


Objective: While several studies have suggested that the presence of depression and anxiety can predict future cognitive decline in older adults, little research has examined specific cognitive abilities that are affected. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of baseline depression and anxiety on change in Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2) subscales after six months. Method: This study utilized data from a larger, longitudinal study measuring late-life anxiety risk factors in older adults. Participants (N=152) were given various neuropsychological assessments at baseline and biannually over a two-year period. Measures used for this study included the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Perceived Stress Scale, Penn State Worry Questionnaire, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory and DRS-2. Standardized residual change scores were computed for each DRS-2 subscale by predicting six-month performance from baseline performance. Results: Significant changes in the Initiation/Perseveration subscale at six-month follow-up were significantly (p<.05) negatively associated with baseline GDS, Perceived Stress Scale, PANAS negative affect, and Speilberger Trait Anxiety (p’s=.026 to .004). Six-month decline on the DRS Conceptualization scale was negatively associated with the Perceived Stress Scale and positively associated with the PANAS positive affect scale. Conclusions: The presence of depression and anxiety in subjects at baseline was predictive of declines on the Initiation/Perseveration and Conceptualization scales of the DRS-2 at six-month follow-up. These findings suggest that depressive or anxious symptoms may raise the risk of future decline in executive functioning in late life.


Executive Functioning, Anxiety, Depression

Full Text:  Subscribers Only


  • There are currently no refbacks.

The Proceedings is produced as a service of UNC Asheville.