In what may be the first study to use brain imaging to look at the neural circuits involved in emotional control in patients with depression, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that brains of people with clinical depression react very differently than those of healthy people when trying to cope with negative situations.Apparently, non-depressed people were much better at regulating their negative emotions than depressed people. In depressed people, the harder they worked, the worse they got.
In their words:
In nondepressed individuals, high levels of regulatory activity correlated with low activity in the emotional response centers - in effect, the healthy subjects' efforts successfully quelled their emotional responses. In depressed patients, however, high levels of activity in the amygdala and other emotional centers persisted despite intense activity in the regulatory regions.What does this mean? Some depressed people may not get better from cognitive therapy. If thinking about something gets someone too worked up, there will need to be other ways of helping them to get better.
This finding suggests that healthy people are able to effectively regulate their negative emotions through conscious effort, but that the necessary neural circuits are dysfunctional in many patients with depression, the researchers say. The difference becomes even more pronounced the harder the patients try.
I wonder how depressed people successfully managed on antidepressants would do in this study?