Decision-making performance of depressed patients within 72 h following a suicide attempt

Klára M. Hegedűs, Andrea Szkaliczki, Bernadett I. Gál, Bálint Andó, Z. Janka, Péter Z. Álmos

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The significance of decision-making in suicidal behaviour is often highlighted; however, the performance of persons in suicide crisis is unknown. This study aimed to explore the comprehensive decision-making profile of depressed patients following a suicide attempt. Methods: Decision-making was measured by reward- (“ABCD”) and punishment- (“EFGH”) sensitive versions of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) in 59 medication-free depressed patients within 72 h after a suicide attempt and in 46 healthy control subjects. Severity of depressive symptoms was assessed in the patient group by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Results: Performance of the two groups differed significantly on the IGT ABCD, while a trend towards significant differences was seen on the IGT EFGH. Severity of depressive symptoms did not affect the depressed participants’ decision-making performance. Limitations: Subjects were not matched for years of education. Administration of the IGT ABCD and IGT EFGH was not counterbalanced. Methods of suicide attempts and history of previous attempts were not collected. Conclusions: Individuals with a recent suicide attempt showed decision-making dysfunction on both IGT versions. However, on the EFGH, the overall difference between groups was not significant, depressed participants’ performance remained poor during all blocks. Their behaviour reflected a focus on best immediate possible outcomes, not regarding future adverse consequences. This could be a result of psychological and cognitive alterations which modulate suicidal behaviour independent from mood. Further longitudinal studies should verify this possibility. Investigation of state-dependent neuropsychological characteristics of suicidal behaviour might be essential for detecting acute suicidal crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-588
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018



  • Decision-making
  • Iowa Gambling Task
  • Recent suicide attempt
  • Suicidal crisis
  • Unipolar major depressive disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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