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Depression Makes You Feel and See “Blue”

Artists illustrate depression as a shade of darkness, a depiction that is constant over culture, language, era or even individual artist.

New research confirms this phenomenon, lending empirical support to the classic representation of depression — that everything looks gray when you feel blue.

Researchers at the University of Freiburg in Germany showed previously that people with depression have difficulty detecting black-and-white contrast differences.

Publishing a new report in Biological Psychiatry, these scientists combined neuropsychiatric and ophthalmologic investigations to focus on the response of the retina to varying black-and-white contrasts.

Specifically, they measured the pattern electroretinogram, which is like an electrocardiogram (ECG) of the retina of the eye, in patients with depression and healthy individuals.

They found dramatically lower retinal contrast gain in the depressed patients, regardless of whether or not they were receiving antidepressant medication.

There was also a significant correlation between contrast gain and severity of depression, meaning those with the most severe symptoms of depression also had the lowest retinal responses. The electrophysiological signal of response was sufficiently consistent to distinguish most depressed patients from the healthy subjects.

“These data highlight the profound ways that depression alters one’s experience of the world,” commented Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.

“The poet William Cowper said that ‘variety’s the very spice of life’, yet when people are depressed, they are less able to perceive contrasts in the visual world. This loss would seem to make the world a less pleasurable place.”

Lead author Dr. Ludger Tebartz van Elst noted that although these findings are strong, they still need to be replicated in further studies.

However, “this method could turn out to be a valuable tool to objectively measure the subjective state of depression, having far-reaching implications for research as well as clinical diagnosis of and therapy for depression.”

Source: Elseiver

 

Depression Makes You Feel and See “Blue”

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Depression Makes You Feel and See “Blue”. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/07/22/depression-makes-you-feel-and-see-blue/15873.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.