Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effects of major depression and borderline personality traits on executive function skills
by Arzola Colon, Gladys Marina, Ph.D., Palo Alto University, 2009, 107; 3396801
Abstract (Summary)

Diagnostic features of clinical major depression include cognitive symptoms such as attention difficulties and psychomotor slowing. More recently, the overarching role of impaired executive function is proposed in depression. However, some researchers suggest that problems in diagnostic heterogeneity and comorbidity within samples make it difficult to obtain a clear neuropsychological profile. Interestingly, the effects of comorbid borderline personality, which has also been linked with impaired executive function, are seldom accounted for in this body of research. The present study investigated the effects of comorbid borderline personality traits on executive function in a sample of depressed patients. Sixty-eight patients with depression (46 females and 22 males) were administered the following measures: Hamilton Depression Rating Inventory, Millon Clinical Multi-axial Inventory, Stroop test, Trail Making Test, and the Controlled Oral Word Fluency Test. Correlational and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between depression, borderline traits and executive functions. While borderline personality traits were not linked with executive function, depression severity did have an impact on some specific skills. However, results of main analyses were generally limited by low statistical power. Additional analyses were conducted with verbal learning strategies (derived from the California Verbal Learning Test-II) that have been associated with executive function. These results show that endogenous depression could be linked with verbal learning performance. In these analyses, borderline personality was negatively correlated with subjective clustering. Furthermore, hierarchical regression analyses indicated that compared to depression, borderline personality alone explained 12% of the variance for subjective clustering strategy. In women, however, this effect was lowered to 7%. Additionally, a significant effect of depression on proactive interference emerged in women only. More notably, when main analyses were repeated in women, some effects of depression on executive function skills were evidenced while borderline traits continued to have no impact. These latter results bring focus to effects of sex-differences in depression research, and also borderline personality research. On the whole, the results of this investigation underscore the need for larger scale studies with increased statistical power, and the application of more refined diagnostic measures and newly developed tests of executive function. This research will serve to clarify the cognitive profile of depressed and borderline clients, and allow us to tailor treatment programs that circumvent the cognitive difficulties experienced by these clients.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gomez, Rowena G.
Commitee: Moses, James A., Wisniewski, Amy
School: Palo Alto University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Personality psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Borderline personality, Cognition, Depression, Executive function, Mood, Neuropsychology
Publication Number: 3396801
ISBN: 9781109660081
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