Symptoms of anxiety and depression in the course of cognitive decline.

ABSTRACT. Background/Aims: Anxiety and depression are common inpatients with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease (AD), and recognition and treatment of these symptoms can improve their quality of life. The present study investigates anxiety and depression in different phases of cognitive decline. Methods: The sample consisted of five groups of elderly people in different phases of cognitive decline; four from a community-based sample (Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam), and one group of elderly people diagnosed with AD. ANOVAs were performed to investigate group differences in the severity and prevalence of anxiety and depression, and comorbid anxiety and depressive symptoms. Results: The prevalence rates of anxiety, comorbid anxiety and depressive symptoms and depressive symptoms follow a pattern of an increasing prevalence as cognitive performance declines and a decrease in the prevalence when cognitive functioning is severely impaired. AD patients report fewest anxiety symptoms. Conclusion: We found that the prevalence of anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms and comorbid anxiety and depressive symptoms seems to increase in the early phase of cognitive decline, and decreases as cognitive functioning further declines. Elderly diagnosed with AD report less anxiety as expected, probably due to lack of insight caused by AD.