BACKGROUND Affective disorders typically have a better outcome than schizophrenia, although recent evidence suggests that some patients with affective disorder have a relatively poor outcome, with cognitive impairments and persistent symptomatology.
METHOD Fifty chronically hospitalised geriatric patients with mood disorders (major depression or bipolar disorder) were compared on the clinical symptoms and aspects of cognitive impairment with 308 geriatric schizophrenic patients who were hospitalised at the same institution. The two samples did not differ in current age or in premorbid education level, but the affective patients had a later age of onset and more females in the sample.
RESULTS There were no overall differences in cognitive functioning between the groups, although the clinical symptom profiles resembled those seen in better outcome patients.
CONCLUSIONS Cognitive impairment is present in poor-outcome patients with affective disorders as well as schizophrenia, suggesting that cognitive impairments predict poor outcome across psychiatric disorders and not just in schizophrenia.