The association between depressive symptoms and cognitive decline in community-dwelling elderly persons.

ABSTRACT. Objective To investigate whether depressive symptoms predict specific types of cognitive decline in order to elucidate the association between late life depression and cognitive decline. Background Mechanisms underlying the association between late life depression and cognitive decline are still unclear. Method Six hundred and forty-one elderly persons of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) aged 70-85 were examined by means of two measurement occasions over a period of 3 years. Depressive symptoms were assessed by means of the CES-D. Various cognitive functions were examined using neuropsychological tests. Results Depressive symptoms were associated with decline in speed of information processing over a 3-year period, whereas there was no association between depression and increasing memory impairment or global mental deterioration. Conclusion These findings suggest that depressive symptoms are associated with subcortical pathology, most probable white matter lesions.