Have you ever heard the phrase ?seeing the world through rose-colored glasses?; where everything in life seems to be going your way and the world is wonderful? Well, what about the opposite; Arnold, et. al. of the Netherlands suggests that those with or recovering from depression may see the world through black-colored glasses.
If you are like most Americans, you have probably felt depressed in your life. Recovering from this depression is hard, your entire outlook on life is noticeably negative, even positive experiences are underestimated. These feelings are caused by changes in your brain due to having been depressed, and this outlook can possibly lead to further depression.
The study Rose or black-colored glasses? Altered neural processing of positive events during memory formation is a trait marker of depression published in The Journal of Affective Disorders shows that depression can induce a type of negative veil surrounding your cognitive processes. Specifically, this study was interested in what type of words were remembered ? or forgotten within the trials. Two groups of women, one with no previous diagnosis of depression and another with previous cases of depression were asked to memorize sets of words. The women were all similar in age, intelligence, life events, etc. except the factor of depression. They were given words chose from a separate, independent study of students, where over 1000 Dutch words were rated by their perceived emotional ties and were raked as either positive, neutral or negative. Using these words, the women were presented with small groups of these words for 120, 80 or 40 second intervals with our without distractions. Afterwards, the women were asked to repeat the words they were asked to memorize.
On average, the group of women with previous depression remembered negative words better than the control group. However, the control group remembered positive words significantly more than the women with depressive episodes. While it may not seem impressive that a history of depression makes you much better at remembering words with negative associations than those with positive, this has significant implications. If one is better at remembering negative things, this can also pertain to memories and feelings, leading to a never ending circle.
Well, does depression lead to depressing thoughts only lead to more depression? ?The answer is possibly. All of the women from the experimental group were recovering from depression, and obviously would have a higher outlook on life as opposed to someone who is in the midst of an acute depressive episode. While the outlook may be somewhat bleak due to the fact that your brain has a higher affinity for negative feelings when either depressed or in a post-depressive state, there is still a large number of positive words that were remembered by the experimental group of women. This means that there is still the possibility that your brain will remember positive things such as memories that can help in your recovery.
If you are recovering from depression, it is important to keep positive things in mind, because while they may not stick out quite as well as some negative thoughts, they will still be remembered.