By On July 19th, 2006

Depression Relapse

Reuters Health reports that people who have experienced a recent bout with depression are especially vulnerable to emotional stress or sadness that can reactivate depressive thinking.

In a study conducted by the University of Toronto, researchers examined if mood-linked changes in thinking predicted relapse in 301 adults recovering from a major depressive episode. The findings were quite interesting.

The subjects underwent “mood provocation”, or a conscious attempt to induce an emotional state. The subjects were asked to recall a time when they felt sad while at the same time, the researchers played an excerpt from Prokofiev’s orchestral piece “Russia Under the Mongolian Yoke” — music which, when played at 1/2 speed, has been noted to induce feelings of sadness in earlier studies*.

Compared with patients who underwent cognitive behavior therapy, those who received antidepressant medication showed a greater tendency to have depressive thoughts after mood provocation. The magnitude of the mood-linked response predicted relapse during the 18 months, regardless of the type of previous treatment.

*Exactly why does “Russia Under the Mongolian Yoke” played at half speed elicit this kind of response? No one is entirely sure, but Jonathan Brown, a University of Washington psychologist and co-author of the study in which the music’s effects were discovered, called the music “slow, sad, laborious and boring.” Interestingly, Brown’s study found that a jazz arrangement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 put his subjects in a generally happy mood.

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