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Cognitive functioning in older adults with generalized anxiety disorder

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Author: 
David Brugos Miranda
Abstract: 

Introduction: The relationship between clinical anxiety and cognitive impairment in the elderly population is not well established and there is contradictory evidence that depends on the cognitive functions studied. In order to study this relationship in the case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), we performed a comparative study of general cognitive functioning, inhibitory control and Working Memory of elderly people with GAD and elderly without GAD.
Material and methods:28 elderly controls without clinical anxiety and 33 elderly individuals with GAD were selected in a Primary Care health center. A Spanish versión of the Mini Mental State Examination was used to measure general cognitive functioning, the WAIS Digit Span Test for verbal working memory, and the Stroop test for interference response, as a measure of inhibitory control. Finally, the Boston Reading Comprehension Test was used to rule out problems in reading comprehension.
Results: there were no significant differences in Mini Mental State Examination, Digits Span Test and Stroop test between the elderly with GAD and controls, being both similar samples in their reading comprehension.
Discussion: According to our findings, clinical anxiety in the elderly with GAD does not generate greater cognitive impairment than expected at their age, which suggests a tendency to a maladaptive use of these cognitive mechanisms.
Conclusions: There were not found differences in the overall cognitive functioning, interference effect and working memory between the elderly with and without GAD.

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