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Depression

Unidnentified Decline in IQ

11/27/2007

Question:

It has been proven though neuro psychology testing that I have decreased cognitive skills and my IQ has dropped about 30 points, from 126 to 95. My doctors have given me 2 possible reasons for this: (1) Natural age decline and (2) Depression. I disagree with both reasons. First of all I am only 55 years old. Secondly, sound minds run in my family. My ancestors that I remember lived to be in their late 80`s and early 90`s and all but one died with a sound mind. My maternal aunt had early signs of Alzheimer’s for less than a year before she died in her late 80’s. My father lived to be 94 and my mother lived to be 88, both died with sound minds. Depression as the cause--I was an inpatient for depression in 1992 when I took an IQ test and scored126. I was much more depressed then than I am now. I informed my neurologist, psychologist and neuro-psychologist that I had post surgery complications in 1995 where I lost half the blood in my body which rendered me in and out of consciousness. At that time and years before and after, I was not working because of physical health issues. In 2005 I was ready to go back to work. I tried to do so but found that I could not comprehend new information quickly and easily. I was fired or I quit several jobs then. I knew something was not quite right so I sought help from vocational rehab and was tested by a psychologist and a neuro-psychologist and was diagnosed with cognitive disorders, decline in IQ, ADHD, depression and etc… Now that I know what my disorders are I have been able to look back over my life and I can see with 100% surety that my cognitive decline stated immediately after that surgery. I have told my doctors this information. I told them that I recall re-teaching myself my age. I remember being asked during that time my age and I could not answer. I remember counting from my date of birth in order that I could tell the person asking, how old I was. I remember having to do this for a while until I could readily tell myself my age. I remember at times when writing that I would forget how to spell words. I remember re-teaching myself how to spell the word, don’t. My doctors readily say and write that my age or my depression has caused the decline in my intelligence but they all stammer when I asked them if the excessive blood loss caused the decrease in my intelligence. My Neurologist instead of testing for brain damage due to the blood loss, I am being tested for Alzheimer’s and dementia. He claims that the tests are all and the same. Perhaps you agree with my doctors, perhaps you don’t. With the details that I have given , please give me your opinion an anything that I have said. Any added information in your response would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

You are right that age and depression usually do not account for the suddenness and the severity of the cognitive problems you describe. I don't know why you've had these cognitive declines. One of my patients with chronic severe depression, a former school teacher for 15 years, has had a loss of ability to do basic arithmetic, while preserving her verbal fluency, even 6 months after recovering from her depression. Don't give up. There's so much we don't know about what causes sudden cognitive declines. Surgery may have contributed, but it's hard to document that without serial neuropsychologic tests around the time of the surgery. I suggest you try to get annual neuropsychologic tests and continue to study this problem with the help of a good neuropsychologist.

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Response by:

Lawson  Wulsin, MD Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati