Being depressed affects all aspects of day-to-day life, disrupting families and careers. With 1 in 10 Americans suffering from the illness at one point or another, it's no wonder doctors are doing everything they can to spearhead the fight against it and to shed light on how common it actually is.
Sadly, 80% of people who suffered from depression once will endure the illness again sometime in the future. Scientists have found a simple way to reveal if you're more at risk for developing depression again: Look at the photo below:
Which face did you focus on first? If it was the one of the woman baring her teeth, looking angry, your odds of becoming depressed may be higher.
The scientists at Binghamton University in New York conducted a study with 160 women—60 of whom had a past history of depression and 100 who had none. By showing each participant a series of two faces, one that had a neutral expression and the other one that had an angry, sad or happy expression, they found that those who focused more on angry faces have a greater risk of being depressed.
The women in the study who had a previous history of depression tended to look at the angry faces more than those who had no history of the illness. The research also found that this created a higher risk for suffering from depression again in the next two years.
"What we showed is if your attention is drawn to people who appear to be angry with you or critical of you, then you're at risk for depression," said Mary Woody, the lead author of the study. "I think the most interesting thing about this is that we followed these women for two years, and the women who are paying attention to angry faces are the most likely to become depressed again, and they become depressed in the shortest amount of time."
Brandon Gibb, a professor of psychology at Binghamton, hopes to use these findings to offer an alternative treatment for those who are more at risk for depression. New computer software could be utilized to "retrain" people's attention, and therefore help those with depressive disorders to focus on happier images.