Cognitive dysfunction and functional disability in alcohol-dependent adults with or without a comorbid affective disorder

Rico S.C. Lee, Glenys Dore, Lisa Juckes, Tamara De Regt, Sharon L. Naismith, Jim Lagopoulos, Ashleigh M. Tickell, Ian B. Hickie, Daniel F. Hermens

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Little is known about the relationship between cognitive dysfunction and functional disability in alcohol dependence with comorbid affective disorders. We investigated the neuropsychology of alcohol dependence in detoxified adults with and without affective comorbidity and examined the factors associated with prolonged functional disability. Methods. From a total of 42 participants (age range = 18-44 years), 12 out of 21 alcohol-dependent participants had a comorbid affective disorder, 12 had an affective disorder only, and 9 were healthy controls. Participants completed a semi-structured clinical interview, questionnaires and comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. Results. Following detoxification (median = 35 days; M = 41.2 days, SD = 17.9), visual learning and memory functioning was worse in alcohol-dependent individuals. Comorbid affective disorders did not appear to exacerbate cognitive dysfunction. Psychiatric comorbidity and current depressive symptoms were predictive of poorer functional disability. Furthermore, learning and memory, and response inhibition, contributed significantly and independently to predicting functional disability over and above clinical and demographic factors. Conclusions. Psychiatric comorbidity does not appear to be associated with more pronounced neuropsychological dysfunction in alcohol dependence. Conversely, both comorbid affective disorders and cognitive factors were critical in determining the functional outcomes of alcohol-dependent adults recently undergoing medically supervised inpatient detoxification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • neuropsychology
  • cognitive deficits
  • alcohol dependence
  • detoxification
  • disability

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