Mental Health Problems Come With ‘Cost’ of Poorer Cognitive Function

All types of mental disorders come with a hidden cost in the form of cognitive dysfunction, including deficits in memory, attention, executive functions and processing speed, according to a comprehensive study that my colleagues and I published in June in the journal Clinical Psychology Review.

We found that both diagnosable mental disorders, as well as some common symptoms such as anxiety and worry, carry a “cognitive price.” We termed this phenomenon “The C Factor” — short for cognitive dysfunction. This can be defined either as lower performance on cognitive tests or reduction in cognitive abilities, such as attention and memory. Our analysis suggests that it can be found across disorders and that it constitutes an integral part of poorer mental health.

Our team analyzed data from all existing meta-analyses and systematic reviews of cognitive function across all disorders recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. We included 97 meta-analyses covering 29 disorders. Overall, our study incorporated data from more than 200,000 individuals.

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