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The prevalence and severity of neurocognitive dysfunctioning of patients with somatic symptom and related disorders (SSRD) is unknown. Furthermore, the influence of comorbid depression and anxiety has not been evaluated. This study examines neurocognitive dysfunctioning of patients with SSRD and explores if comorbid depression and anxiety is associated with specific neurocognitive dysfunctioning.
Cross-sectional study with consecutive patients suffering from SSRD visiting an outpatient specialty mental health care Centre of Excellence for SSRD. Extensive neuropsychological assessment and assessment of depression and anxiety symptom levels using the Patient-Health-Questionnaire-9 and General Anxiety Disorder questionnaire-7 were performed at intake. Multivariate analysis was performed.
The study sample consisted of 201 SSRD patients, with a mean age of 43 years (Standard deviation = 13) years; 37.8% were male. Neurocognitive dysfunction in the domains information processing speed, sustained and divided attention, working memory, verbal and visual memory were reported, compared with normative data. Comorbid depression and anxiety occurred frequently within the sample (75.1% and 65.7%, respectively). Neurocognitive dysfunctioning was worse in patients suffering from comorbid depression [multivariate F (7,161) = 2.839, p = 0.008] but not in patients with comorbid anxiety.
Poor neurocognitive performance of patients with SSRD is common and worsens in case of comorbid depression. This may explain treatment dropout of patients with SSRD from neurocognitive behavioral therapy. Research on novel interventions is needed targeting neurocognitive functioning of patients with SSRD, particularly those with comorbid depression.
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