A study from the University of Michigan (UM) has shown that people who are clinically depressed have difficulty telling the difference between their negative emotions.
Researchers from UM Department of Psychology and the study’s lead author Emre Demiralp said that the ability to distinguish our emotions affects how we handle stress in our lives. Not being able to distinguish between our emotions could cause us to choose an inappropriate action and make the problem worse.
“It is difficult to improve your life without knowing whether you are sad or angry about some aspect of it,” Demiralp said. “For example, imagine not having a gauge independently indicating the gasoline level of your car. It would be challenging to know when to stop for gas.
“We wanted to investigate whether people with clinical depression had emotional gauges that were informative, and whether they experienced emotions with the same level of specificity and differentiation as healthy people.”
The study included 106 people between the ages of 18 and 40. Half of participants were diagnosed with clinical depression. For seven or eight days, participants recorded their emotions at random times throughout the day using a Palm Pilot. They recorded their feelings on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 4 (a great deal) using four positive emotions (happy, excited, alert, active) and seven negative emotions (sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, ashamed, disgusted, and guilty).
When experiencing two emotions at once, participants often found it more difficult to distinguish between their negative emotions than their positive emotions.
Demiralp explained that positive emotions are used by those with depression to help them cope with their negative feelings.
Source: Medical Xpress