Background Cognitive compromise is a common experience for patients with depression and other mood disorders. Depressed patients sustain deficits in working memory and attentional distortions in emotional processing and negative attention biases, which may contribute to maintaining their depressive state. Methods The Mood Assessment and Classification (MAC) Committee comprised academic psychiatrists with clinical expertise in the management of mood disorders. The independently convened committee met to discuss contentious aspects of mood disorders diagnosis and assessment with the express aim of informing clinical practice and future research. Results The Committee specifically identified cognition as an important aspect for clinicians to consider in the context of depression and mood disorders. This article highlights some of the barriers to assessment and proposes tools that have the potential to be implemented in clinical practice. Limitations The conclusions drawn within this article are based on expert opinion. We have noted the limitations of the literature that informs this opinion. Conclusions As cognitive ability has been closely linked to patients’ ability to achieve functional recovery, it is imperative that clinicians are able to identify patients with cognitive deficits and are equipped with tools to conduct effective cognitive assessments. Examining cognitive factors may generate a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis of depression and mood disorders which can ultimately be used to inform treatment.