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Researcher: Depression enhances problem-solving


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Paul Andrews's field is evolutionary psychiatry and he believes depression serves a useful protective function in managing stress. He is lead author of a recent scholarly paper, Blue again, showing use of antidepressants increases relapse into depression.


Positive Effects of Depression


By Traci Pedersen Psych Central News

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 5, 2011


Depression may actually have a positive side effect. It appears that depressed people perform better than healthy people in sequential decision tasks, according to research in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.


Sequential decision tasks are a part of our problem-solving cognitive functioning abilities.


Although most symptoms of depression interfere with cognitive functioning, researchers including Paul Andrews, Ph.D., of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics and Andy Thomson, M.D., of the University of Virginia have suggested that depression may promote analytical reasoning and persistence. These are qualities that are often helpful in complex tasks.


For the study, volunteers who were clinically depressed or recovering from depression (but otherwise healthy) were asked to play a computer game in which they could earn money by hiring an applicant in a simulated job search. The task was designed to mimic everyday decision problems and had an optimal strategy.



Results revealed that the depressed participants came closer to the optimal strategy than their non-depressed counterparts. Although healthy participants searched through relatively few candidates before selecting an applicant, depressed participants conducted a more thorough search and made choices that gave them higher payoffs.


The study shows that even severe depression might yield some beneficial side effects. A full understanding of the consequences of depression may help uncover its roots and open avenues for treatment.


Source: Clarkson University



This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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  • 5 months later...

I posted article by Jonah Lehrer about this ~ I grieve its a very interesting theory• not bland to be very popular in our society but worth some consideration

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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