Study reveals the strange symptom of depression most people don't know about

Study reveals the strange symptom of depression most people don't know about

As mental health and depression become more broadly spoken about subjects in society, we are seeing more research into the subject being conducted regularly. Most of the research involves what we can do to prevent depression and aid those who are struggling with it, however, one of the more interesting projects in recent times took a look at one of the symptoms of depression which is often overlooked and not spoken about.

According to results published in the journal of Psychological Science in 2012, those suffering from depression find it hard to distinguish between negative emotions such as guilt, anger and frustration.

Half of the participants in the study were experiencing clinical depression and they were asked to report their emotions at different parts of the week, in order to see how well they could convey what they were feeling.

Dr. Emre Demiralp, co-author of the study, was quoted by Spring as saying:

"It is difficult to improve your life without knowing whether you are sad or angry about some aspect of it.

"For example, imagine not having a gauge independently indicating the gasoline level of your car. It would be challenging to know when to stop for gas."

"We wanted to investigate whether people with clinical depression had emotional gauges that were informative and whether they experienced emotions with the same level of specificity and differentiation as healthy people."

The participants were asked to measure their feelings in 11 different emotions, of which seven were negative.

  • Sad
  • Anxious
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Ashamed
  • Disgusted
  • Guilty

The researchers found that the participants who were suffering from depression found it difficult to distinguish between the negative emotions that they were feeling, as opposed to the non-depressed participants, who could explain what they were feeling with ease.

The positive emotions were:

  • Happy
  • Excited
  • Alert
  • Active

The study found that both groups of participants were able to clearly distinguish between the positive emotions, meaning that depression doesn't simply mean that people are unable to convey their emotions.

Speaking about the results, Dr. Demiralp said:

"Our results suggest that being specific about your negative emotions might be good for you. It might be best to avoid thinking that you are feeling generally bad or unpleasant.

"Be specific. Is it anger, shame, guilt or some other emotion?

"This can help you circumvent it and improve your life.

"It is one of our overarching goals to investigate approaches for facilitating this kind of emotional intelligence at a large scale in the population."

In the discussion section of the research, Dr. Demiralp said:

"The present study is the first to show that people diagnosed with MDD [Major Depressive Disorder] experience negative emotions with less differentiation in their daily lives than do healthy individuals..."

Dr. Demiralp suggests that specific emotions are usually associated with casual objects, while undifferentiated emotions are not. He reckons that this can lead to problems prescribing prescriptions for patients, as it not clear exactly what they are suffering from.