Different responses to the type of emotional challenges encountered in everyday life are possibly vital for depressed people. According to a study led by the University of Toronto, brain’s response to sadness can predict relapses into depression. The study findings may have great significance in the health domain.
During the study, 16 formerly depressed patients were made to watch sad movie clips and their brain activity was tracked down through fMRI. After 16 months, nine of the 16 patients probably had relapsed into depression. The brain activity of relapsing patients was then matched with those who remained healthy and also another group of people who had never been depressed.
“Part of what makes depression such a devastating disease is the high rate of relapse. However, the fact that some patients are able to fully maintain their recovery suggests the possibility that different responses to the type of emotional challenges encountered in everyday life could reduce the chance of relapse,” enlightened Norman Farb, a PhD psychology student and lead author of the study.
When the relapsing patients faced sadness, they apparently had more activity in a frontal region of the brain, known as the medial prefrontal gyrus. These responses also appeared linked to higher rumination, which is the tendency to think obsessively about negative events and occurrences. The patients who did not relapse reported more activity in the rear part of the brain, which is responsible for processing visual information. It may be also related to greater feelings of acceptance and non-judgment of experience.
The study is published in Biological Psychiatry.