Digital treatment for cognitive impairment following depression

Sunniva Brurok Myklebost will defend her PhD degree at the University of Bergen on 19 January 2023 with the thesis “Residual cognitive symptoms after depression: Person-based development and evaluation of an internet-delivered cognitive enhancement intervention”.

Cognitive symptoms are common forms of impairments after a depression, also called residual symptoms. They are characterized by difficulties with attention, memory and control functions, which affects daily life, and can contribute to relapse of depression. Despite depression being one of the most common mental disorders, there is a lack of clinical interventions to treat residual cognitive symptoms. Digital interventions can therefore be a solution to increase access to treatment.

The thesis consists of two studies. The first study deals with the development of a digital intervention for cognitive residual symptoms and includes interviews with formerly depressed people, the purpose of which is to investigate their cognitive difficulties and the need for treatment of these. The results show that formerly depressed people feel that they have cognitive difficulties in the aftermath of depression and that they need information about cognitive residual symptoms, coping strategies for worry, strategies to increase acceptance and compensation of symptoms through therapist support. Digital interventions for formerly depressed people should promote motivation, gradually provide access to information and should be adapted to the degree of residual symptoms.

The second study is a pilot study in which we investigated the effect of a digital program for adults who have been depressed and report residual cognitive symptoms. The findings show a significant decrease in residual cognitive symptoms and rumination after implementation, as well as at follow-up after six months. In addition, the findings show that a shorter duration of previous depression and a high degree of expected treatment effect are important for reducing cognitive difficulties after six months. The results from the thesis are promising and show that digital interventions can be used to treat residual cognitive symptoms after depression, which can contribute to increased function and reduce the risk of relapse.

Myklebost has Tine Nordgreen as her PhD-supervisor and professor at Uib, ├ůsa Hammar, as her secondary supervisor.

The debate will be held at Alrek Helseklynge at 10:30 and is open to all interested parties. Trial lecture at 09.15 – 10.00 same place with stated subject: “Methodological challenges and possible solutions in clinical trials targeting cognition in depression.”