Three Questions to Ask to Assess Cognition in Depression
In this new, occasional feature on Psych Congress Network, members of the Psych Congress Steering Committee answer questions asked by audience members at Psych Congress meetings.
QUESTION: What are your 3 favorite questions to assess cognition in depression?
ANSWER: Cognitive problems are unusually common in major depression and are often missed by both patients and clinicians. Missing identifying these symptoms comes with a heavy price for the patient. I therefore very much appreciate your question about how do we practically go about assessing for cognitive difficulties in depression.
Let's first appreciate that in major depression cognition is harmed in multiple domains—including attention, concentration, processing memory, and executive function. It is best to ask questions that directly address these domains. I would therefore recommend the following three questions as an initial screen to assess for cognitive difficulties:
Do you find yourself having difficulties with forgetfulness and memory?
Do you find yourself losing track of conversations, and have trouble with focus when you are reading?
Do you find yourself having trouble making even simple decisions?
All three of these questions are good screening questions, and if difficulties are noted in any of these three domains, a more detailed assessment for cognitive difficulties should be conducted.
— Psych Congress cochair Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, Midland