I think every person is in a state between depressed and happy. Sometimes due to life experience swinging from one side to another. My question is, does cognitive ability change based on one's psychiatric state?

It is intuitive to think that when one is in a normal rested state that their ability would be better than if they are depressed but what about the changes in the "in between levels". Would a person perform better on cognitive tests when they're more happy or so?

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    $\begingroup$ A point of note - when you said "I think every person is in a state between depressed and happy" depression is not the same as just being sad or in a low mood. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 4:40
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @ChrisRogers - I'm not sure if you are asking "How does happiness affect cognitive function?" or "How does mood affect cognitive function?" One can be unhappy (eg, in pain) without depressed mood, and one can have elevated mood (eg, manic) without being happy. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Mar 22 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


Symptoms of depression are typically found to correlate negatively with cognitive function, though this isn't the sort of thing that is amenable to experiment so research must rely on observation of people with and without depression and it can be difficult to control for confounding factors.

Here's an example meta analysis:

McDermott, L. M., & Ebmeier, K. P. (2009). A meta-analysis of depression severity and cognitive function. Journal of affective disorders, 119(1-3), 1-8.

Quoting from their abstract:

Significant correlations between depression severity and cognitive performance were found in the domains of episodic memory, executive function, and processing speed, but not for semantic memory or visuo-spatial memory. For both timed and un-timed cognitive measures there were equally significant correlations with depression severity.


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