Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


The purpose of the current study was to assess the performance of depressed young adults on tests of executive function, while addressing the variables of age and medication status, which have been inconsistently measured in previous research. It was hypothesized that statistically significant group differences would occur on tests of executive functions in three distinct groups: medicated depressed, non-medicated depressed, and non-medicated non-depressed individuals.

Participants included 53 adults who were medicated depressed ( n = 15), non-medicated depressed (n = 16), and non-medicated non-depressed (n = 22) and were between the ages of 19 and 40 years. Participants completed measures assessing depression, psychological well-being (including anxiety), intelligence, and executive functions.

Between group comparisons revealed several statistically significant differences on executive function measures including the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) Trials Administered, WCST Failure to Maintain Set, Trail Making Test (TMT) B, Stroop Word, Stroop Color, Stroop Color-Word, and Stroop Interference. The non-medicated non-depressed group performed better overall than those in the non-medicated depressed and medicated depressed groups. Post hoc stepwise regression analyses indicated that anxiety predicted performance on a number of executive function measures to a greater degree than did depression.

Findings suggest that executive functions of young adults are affected by depression, medication status, and anxiety. Results of the present study contradict the assumption that psychotropic medications do not affect cognitive abilities. These findings also suggest that future research investigating the interaction between anxiety and executive functions are necessary.

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