Small project grants 2022: Following long-term effects of depression

Nordic Mensa Fund awarded two small project grants in 2022. Karen Hopmann from the UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, was awarded for the project: Neuropsychological function, childhood trauma, and vulnerability to depression: A 23-year follow-up study.

During one year, about 10% of Norwegian women and 4% of men will experience clinical depression. For many, depression is recurrent or chronic, meaning that depression may afflict individuals for years and often decades of their lives. Depression is a tremendous burden for the affected individuals, but the high prevalence rate, tendency to recur and numerous consequences of the disorder also make depression one of the greatest societal burdens today. To meet the societal challenges of depression, we need to know more about the etiological factors and long-term effects of depression. A few studies have indicated that depression may have long-term effects on cognitive abilities and neuropsychological functioning, such as memory and processing speed. If this is the case, depression may also influence the quality of life and work ability of previously depressed individuals in remission.

Hopmann and colleagues are conducting a 23-year follow-up study of a cohort of depressed, previously depressed, and never depressed individuals, to investigate neuropsychological vulnerability factors and consequences related to the development and recurrence of depression. Neuropsychological tests such as the WAIS-III (i.e., IQ test), CVLT-II (i.e., verbal memory), D-Kefs (i.e., processing speed) and more are used to get a broader picture of cognitive and emotional functioning of the participants. The study originated at the Department of psychology, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, in 1997 (T1) and the first follow-up study (T2) was conducted in 2006-2007. The results of the study have indicated several cognitive vulnerability factors that may function as markers for future or recurring depression. By conducting a second follow-up study (T3) 23 years after the first data collection, they will examine how neuropsychological factors relate to the risk of recurrence and first onset as well as variability in depressive states over three occasions. This study provides a unique opportunity to investigate long-term relationships, as these factors have not previously been studied in an equally large sample, followed over a comparable time span, with three waves of data collection. For more information about the study, see:

Karen Hopmann is an assistant professor and Ph.D. student at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. She did her undergraduate studies in biological psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and completed her M.Sc. in Neuropsychology there in 2012. In 2013, she got her second Master’s Degree in Psychology from UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. She is now doing a Ph.D., as well as being a lecturer, working on the longitudinal study looking at long-term effects of depression and trauma on neuropsychological functioning.