Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 32–72 | Cite as

A meta-analysis of the effects of antidepressants on cognitive functioning in depressed and non-depressed samples

  • Catherine E. Prado
  • Stephanie Watt
  • Simon F. Crowe


A thorough understanding of the cognitive effects of antidepressant medications is essential given their frequency of use. This meta-analysis was conducted to investigate whether antidepressants differentially affect the various domains of cognitive functioning for depressed and non-depressed participants. An electronic search of PsycInfo, Medline and Google Scholar was conducted for all journal articles published between January 1998 and January 2017. Thirty-three studies were included enabling calculation of Hedges’ g using a random effects model for the cognitive domains of divided attention, executive function, expressive language, immediate memory, perceptual motor skills, processing speed, recent memory, sustained attention, visuospatial-constructional skills and working memory. Results revealed that overall, antidepressants have a modest, positive effect on divided attention, executive function, immediate memory, processing speed, recent memory and sustained attention for depressed participants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) were found to have the greatest positive effect on cognition for depressed participants, as compared to the other classes of antidepressants analysed. Antidepressants did not significantly affect cognitive function in non-depressed participants.


Antidepressants cognition depression meta-analysis 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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