Deakin University

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Psychiatric symptoms, associated pharmacological treatments and cognitive function: A population-based study of men

Background: Psychiatric symptomatology and medications used in their treatment may be modifiable risk factors associated with cognitive function, although findings from population-based studies spanning the full adult age range are lacking. This study aimed to investigate associations between psychiatric symptomatology, psychotropic medication use and cognitive function in a population-based sample of men. Methods: Data for 537 men were drawn from the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Cognitive function (psychomotor function, attention, working memory and visual learning) was determined using the Cog-State Brief Battery. Current depressive and anxiety symptomatology was determined using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and psychotropic medication use was self-reported. Linear regression models were developed to determine associations between psychiatric symptomatology and psychotropic medication use with each cognitive measure. Results: Depressive symptomatology was associated with lower overall cognitive function (b-0.037 ± 0.010, η2 = 0.025, p < 0.001), psychomotor function (b 0.006 ± 0.002, η2 = 0.028 p < 0.001) and attention (b 0.004 ± 0.001, η2 = 0.021, p < 0.001), whereas psychotropic use was associated with lower overall cognitive function (b − 0.174 ± 0.075, η2 = 0.010, p = 0.021), attention (b 0.017 ± 0.008, η2 = 0.008, p = 0.038 and working memory (b 0.031 ± 0.012, η2 = 0.010, p = 0.010). Anticonvulsant use was associated with lower overall cognitive function (b − 0.723 ± 0.172, η2 = 0.032, p < 0.001), attention (b 0.065 ± 0.018, η2 = 0.029, p < 0.001) and working memory (b 0.088 ± 0.026, η2 = 0.022, p < 0.001). All relationships were found to have a small effect. There were no significant associations between anxiety symptomatology and antidepressant and anxiolytic use with any of the cognitive domains. Conclusion: Depressive symptomatology and anticonvulsant use were associated with lower cognitive function. Understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in these relationships can advance knowledge on the heterogeneity in cognitive ageing and aid in prevention initiatives.



Journal of Affective Disorders






Amsterdam, The Netherlands







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal