Depressed people may not be pessimistic but 'recognize the world correctly'



Many people think that when they become depressed, their perception of the world is distorted, and it is thought that 'depressed people will perceive things pessimistically.' However, there are many experts who study depression who support the idea that “depressed people are not pessimistic but rather recognize the world correctly”.

Depressed People See the World More Realistically-VICE

The idea that “ depressed people perceive reality better than those who do not” is called “ depressive realism ”. If the existence of depressive realism is true, many people who are not depressed are perceiving reality in a positive direction.

In 1979, the first study of depression realism, subjects who were depressed and those who were not were given green lights and buttons. After that, let the test subject freely press the button and ask, “How much do you think you could control the timing when the light shines when you pressed the button?” And evaluated the effect of pressing the button. I was asked to.

Actually, there was nothing to do with the light and the button that shined from time to time, and the light was only lit regardless of when and how often the subject pressed the button. However, subjects who were not depressed seemed to think easily that “I could control the lighting timing of the light by pressing the button”, in contrast, subjects who were depressed were “even if I pressed the button. There was a tendency to be able to make a correct evaluation that “the light was not affected”.



“Not all psychologists, but for many psychologists, depressive realism is considered a fruitful hypothesis,” says Colin Feltham of Sheffield Hallam University . Prof. Feltham has written a book called “ Depressive Realism: Interdisciplinary perspectives ” and has researched many studies on depressive realism.

Professor Feltham points out that depression realism may be related to the theory of “ Terror Management Theory ”. In the threat processing theory, it is said that human beings deceive themselves by avoiding confronting the terrible concept of death while recognizing that they will eventually die.

“Some psychologists admit that humans may need a self-deceptive element to be happy,” Feltham said, and the general people continue to have some happy delusions It may be in a state of being. On the other hand, depressed people may not accept happy delusions and may tend to face reality more.


Tess Emily Seymour

Professor Feltham's list of people who are more likely to experience depression realism seems to be introverts, men, people with high IQ, and people with mild depression. In addition, people who are in a severe depression are more inclined to think in a more pessimistic direction than to look directly at reality.

However, not all psychologists agree with the hypothesis of depressive realism, for example Professor Michael Moore at the University of Adelphi is one of the skeptics of depressive realism. A study that analyzed a study of 75 depressive realism with a total of over 7000 participants said, “Although there is indeed evidence of depressive realism, it occurs only in a very narrow range of stimuli. Professor Moore points out.

Professor Moore said that participants in depression were not correctly recognizing the reality, but the situation of the controlled experiment was likely to be a situation in which participants in depression were likely to make correct decisions. Have said. For example, a situation where there is no relationship between the button and the light, and pressing the button does not affect the light, it may be easy to match the pessimistic thoughts of depressed people .

At the time of writing, we can't clearly assert that depressive realism exists. But Moore believes that research on depressive realism may help to provide more effective treatment for people with depression. Cognitive therapy, which is often used to treat depression, tries to correct biased cognition under the hypothesis that 'depressed patients perceive their situation pessimistically'. However, if depressive realism is proven and it turns out that 'depressed patients are not pessimistic, they are just looking at reality,' the way cognitive therapy can change.

by Nathan Cowley

in Note, Posted by log1h_ik