Patient Perspective of Cognitive Symptoms in Major Depressive Disorder: Retrospective Database and Prospective Survey Analyses
Journal of Participatory Medicine
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and burdensome condition. The clinical understanding of MDD is shaped by current research, which lacks insight into the patient perspective. This two-part study aimed to generate data from PatientsLikeMe, an online patient network, on the perception of cognitive symptoms and their prioritization in MDD. A retrospective data analysis (study 1) was used to analyze data from the PatientsLikeMe community with self-reported MDD. Information on patient
... raphics, comorbidities, self-rated severity of MDD, treatment effectiveness, and specific symptoms of MDD was analyzed. A prospective electronic survey (study 2) was emailed to longstanding and recently active members of the PatientsLikeMe MDD community. Study 1 analysis informed the objectives of the study 2 survey, which were to determine symptom perception and prioritization, cognitive symptoms of MDD, residual symptoms, and medication effectiveness. In study 1 (N=17,166), cognitive symptoms were frequently reported, including "severe" difficulty in concentrating (28%). Difficulty in concentrating was reported even among patients with no/mild depression (80%) and those who considered their treatment successful (17%). In study 2 (N=2525), 23% (118/508) of patients cited cognitive symptoms as a treatment priority. Cognitive symptoms correlated with depression severity, including difficulty in making decisions, concentrating, and thinking clearly (rs=0.32, 0.36, and 0.34, respectively). Cognitive symptoms interfered with meaningful relationships and daily life tasks and had a profound impact on patients' ability to work and recover from depression. Patients acknowledge that cognitive dysfunction in MDD limits their ability to recover fully and return to a normal level of social and occupational functioning. Further clinical understanding and characterization of MDD for symptom prioritization and relapse risk due to residual cognitive impairment are required to help patients return to normal cognitive function and aid their overall recovery.