The rate of adoption of the decision on the award predicted the return of depression

Swiss scientists have discovered that how quickly you decide to spend some effort to receive a reward, you can determine whether the return to him depressed. For this they conducted a study involving 123 patients with depression shortly before they stopped taking the antidepressants, and then observed them for six months. Those who have had a relapse, spent on decision-making in more time than those who achieved remission and a control group. Work published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Depression is a disease with a quite high rate of recurrence: approximately one of three cases the disease can return in a few years and sometimes even months or weeks. Often relapse occurs before treatment is completed, so even if the man gets better antidepressants, for example, are advised to take at least six months — and the same applies to psychotherapy.

To predict the occurrence of relapse, however, is quite difficult, but the chance of recurrence increases some factors — for example, experienced childhood trauma. Isabelle Berwin (Isabel Berwian) from the University of Zurich and her colleagues decided to use for predicting recurrence of another indicator — features of the remuneration system, which plays an important role in the emergence of the disease and its course.

The study involved 123 patients with depression in remission, each of which, however, was still taking antidepressants, but soon planned to stop. Participants performed a task in which you had to appreciate the effort that each was willing to spend on remuneration, and efforts were proportional to the rewards. Further test were 66 people in the control group.

All patients were followed for six months after they stopped taking the drugs. The average decision during the test run took participants with depression more time than participants from the control group (1.77 vs. 1.61 seconds seconds), they agreed to spend to obtain the reward much (p < 0.001) less effort. Those who have experienced a relapse within six months after the study began, the decision was taken even more time of 1.95 seconds, and it was more difficult (p = 0.02) to make a decision with a little effort, than to those whom the depression has not returned. At the same time, the decision was to predict validae: scientists were able to correctly define, whether there will be patients relapse in two of three cases.

Since the reward system of the brain for depression and many other mental disorders is basic to use her work for predicting that depression will return, it is logical and can even be effective. Scientists, however, insist that before this method will be used in practice, more data must be collected on other patients, in particular using other methods of treatment.

In a similar way one can determine the presence of other mental illness — bipolar disorder. Last year scientists managed for the activity of the prefrontal cortex at the time of repayment, to determine the presence and severity of symptoms.

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