According to new research, there may be a positive side to depression. A new study suggests that people suffering with major depression may be more successful at persisting in and completing complex assignments that involve analytical thinking. The study, conducted by Clarkson University Psychology Professor Andreas K. Wilke, and colleagues from various other universities, provides evidence that supports previous theories about the potential positive side effects of depression.
In the study, participants were asked to play a virtual game of hiring a job applicant for a specific job. Each participant was either in recovery from depression, diagnosed as being clinically depressed, or showed no symptoms of depression. The findings revealed that those who were depressed achieved higher results than their non-depressed counterparts. The people who had been diagnosed as being clinically depressed were able to hire more qualified applicants and employed more beneficial strategies to achieve the outcome than the other test subjects. Wilke believes that this is significant because the tasks in the computer game were designed to resemble tasks involving reasoning and decision making that people encounter every day, such as dating, shopping or house hunting. These real life tasks all offer a best case scenario, similar to that of the computer game.
This research is the first of its kind to support the theory that there may be benefits to clinical depression. This issue has been debated for many years by psychologists and other mental health experts. Although it has been shown that depressive symptoms may decrease cognitive abilities, many professionals, such as Paul Andrews of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, have posed the question of depression’s positive influence on complex task completion. This new research may provide further insight into the effects that depression has and may lead the way to new methods of treatment.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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