THE IMPACT OF DEPRESSION ON THE COGNITION OF ADOLESCENTS

JOSEPH JOHN COYNE, Fordham University

Abstract

The prevalence of depression throughout all age groups is significant and well researched. However, little is known about the impact of depression on the cognitive functioning of individuals, especially the school-aged adolescent. Of the many instruments used to determine intellectual functioning, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) continues to be among the most widely accepted devices.^ The purpose of this study was to compare the performances of depressed and non-depressed adolescents on the WISC-R in order to gain insight into the relationship of depression and cognition. Ninety middle school and high school adolescents from white middle and upper middle class suburban public school classes were randomly selected from among children referred to the local child study team for testing. All subjects completed the WISC-R. In addition, all subjects received the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), a 53-item self-report scale which contains a depression subscale. Norms had been previously established for a normal adolescent population (e.g. those not receiving in-patient or out-patient treatment) during a pilot study of this instrument. On the basis of their depression scores, subjects were selected for two groups, depressed and non-depressed, and comparison was made of their WISC-R performance.^ The relationship between depression scores and WISC-R scores was measured by calculation of Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients. The results indicated that there was no significant relationship between depression and scores on the WISC-R. One of the possible reasons for this finding is the structure of the WISC-R itself which requires time criteria to be used as an upper bound to task performance and does not measure response latency. An alternative explanation is found in the fact that the subjects had been previously referred for testing, indicating the possibility that the results were contaminated by the presence of learning disabilities. The results indicated that caution should be exercised in making personality ascriptions based on the WISC-R alone and that practitioners should become familiar with alternative methods of WISC-R interpretation as well as becoming more familiar with psychodiagnosis. It was also suggested that future research assist in the development of a brief, accurate instrument for the assessment of depression in adolescents and that this research be coupled with efforts to further clarify the relationship between depression and cognition, especially in school age children. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

COYNE, JOSEPH JOHN, "THE IMPACT OF DEPRESSION ON THE COGNITION OF ADOLESCENTS" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8119767.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8119767

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