Is There an Upside to Depression?

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Sharon


    May 10th, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    But how is this possible? Aren’t people with depression considered to be less able to take decisions and think about important things? Their mind is pre occupied with depressive thoughts so they are unable to pay attention to or concentrate on a given task. So how did this happen?

  • doc lc

    doc lc

    May 11th, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    i have been depressed before and believe me when i say that there is no upside

  • Shelton T

    Shelton T

    May 11th, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    So is it that depressed people can actually put all their mind to one thing and think deeply and better than the others?Is that the reason?yes,you have given us the result of a study but please try and find out the reason ASAP! :)

  • Cathy


    May 11th, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    So maybe it is fine for a few people but we all know how depression affects a person in general-there’s nothing to cheer about being depressed!

  • Penny Rayas

    Penny Rayas

    May 12th, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    I would need to read the study myself. I imagen that they are talking about depressed people who have developed the skills to cope with depression. I noticed that depressed people are deep thinkers. I am not surprized.

  • Elizabeth


    May 14th, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    I don’t think there is a positive at all. If you’re depressed, you’re miserable and also at higher risk of a heart-attack and stroke. When I was working I found my depression impacted on my job in a negative way because I felt like I was in a fog all the time and couldn’t think straight.

  • Kip


    May 14th, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    @Elizabeth–I’m with you on that. The perks are not worth being depressed. Much as I would like to think so, I can’t see any good points or relate to those findings as being part of my own experience of depression.

  • Tempest


    May 14th, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    @Kip–You know, you can find good in most things if you look hard enough and I can certainly find good in this! I like the idea that depression’s not all bad and there could be plus sides to it, however small.

  • Nathan


    May 15th, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    I find this unsettling. Saying there’s an upside to depression is like saying “It’s okay to be depressed, there are upsides.” Even if his research is right, there aren’t upsides as far as I can see.

  • Verne


    May 15th, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Elizabeth, Kip and Nathan: all three of you are missing the point. He’s not saying it’s okay to be depressed. He’s investigating the positives he’s found and in turn his research helps other researchers discover if any of the results can be used to identify more treatment options for depression.

  • themuse


    May 15th, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    I don’t know why some commenters are unable to see that little ray of hope for depression sufferers. Any links, any at all, that shed light on pieces of the depression puzzle are great! We don’t need to know exactly why this study will be useful right now this minute but the day will come when we shall and that’s good enough for me.

  • sapphire


    May 15th, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    I find that intriguing because I am anything but analytical when I’m depressed. I’m impulsive and thoughtless in my actions and take no time at all to deliberate when I have to make decisions. My thinking is more chaotic than analytical.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.