Mild worry symptoms predict decline in learning and memory in healthy older adults: a 2-year prospective cohort study
Pietrzak RH, Maruff P, Woodward M, Fredrickson J, Fredrickson A, Krystal JH, Southwick SM, Darby D.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2012 Mar;20(3):266-75.
OBJECTIVE: Theoretical models of cognitive aging are increasingly recognizing the importance of anxiety and depressive symptoms in predicting age-related cognitive changes and early dementia. This study examined the association between mild worry and depressive symptoms, and cognitive function in healthy, community-dwelling older adults. METHOD: A total of 263 healthy older adults participated in an observational prospective cohort study that assessed worry and depression symptoms, and a broad range of cognitive functions over a 2-year period. RESULTS: Older adults with mildly elevated worry symptoms at baseline performed worse than older adults with minimal worry symptoms on measures of visual and paired associate learning. They were also more likely to show clinically significant (> 1.5 standard deviation) decline in visual learning and memory at a 2-year follow-up assessment (9.4% versus 2.5%; odds ratio = 3.8). CONCLUSION: Assessment of worry symptoms, even mild levels, may have utility in predicting early cognitive decline in healthy, community-dwelling older adults.