The Concept of Mood and its Evaluation in Depression – Prof Koen Demyttenaere
Short author bio
Prof Koen Demyttenaere, M.D., PhD serves as the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry in the University Psychiatric Center KuLeuven campus Gasthuisberg and is Full Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Within his research field of anxiety and depression, expertise topics include compliance with antidepressants, antidepressant scales, methodology in trials, conceptualisation of depression and anxiety, quality of life, and epidemiology.
He is a principal investigator in the European Study on the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMED) and serves as a Member of Advisory Board at Jeevan Scientific Technology Limited. Prof Demyttenaere is author or co-author of more than 200 international papers and book chapters.
People with positive mood engage more often in positive health behaviours such exercising and dieting and this is very important.
It’s often said that depressed patients have a kind of bias, in what they look at, in what they remember, etc., and that we who are ‘normal’ are looking at the full reality, but this is not true. We are also biased – we look too much at the positive reality, and that’s good because that makes us balanced and not depressed.
Prof Demyttenaere begins this lecture by asking the question, “Why are we not depressed?” and observes the differences in how people react to the realities of today’s world.
During the day, we all have mixed emotions, both positive and negative, and he discussed how positive mood is beneficial in developing approach behaviour, creativity, and good social interactivity from an evolutionary point of view.
The speaker quotes the study by Trampe et al., 2015 where they developed a smartphone application that monitored real-time emotions of an exceptionally large (N = 11,000+) and heterogeneous participants sample.
Below is the table showing the frequency of everyday emotional experience in the participants.
According to the authors –
People’s everyday life seems profoundly emotional: participants experienced at least one emotion 90% of the time. The most frequent emotion was joy, followed by love and anxiety. People experienced positive emotions 2.5 times more often than negative emotions, but also experienced positive and negative emotions simultaneously relatively frequently.
Why People Are in a Generally Good Mood (Diener et al., 2015)
A positive mood offset may be an evolutionary adaptation in humans.
There is evidence suggesting that positive moods are associated with a number of behaviors that would have been conducive to survival and reproductive success, including health and longevity, fecundity, sociability, and coping with environmental demands. Conversely, the absence of positive moods as seen in severe depression results in difficulties in health and fecundity, sociability, and coping.
According to our hypothesis, humans have been evolutionarily selected to have a positive mood offset, and the higher-than-neutral level of happiness is genetically transmitted from parents to children, while chronic depression and lack of positive affect have been selected out. Although our opposable thumbs, big brains, and upright posture have all received in-depth attention and study as reasons for human success, it is time to consider how positive mood offset might have also contributed.
Moving on to a discussion of the cognitive aspect of positive mood, Prof Demyttenaere explains the clinical importance of understanding how we move from negative mood back to positive mood spontaneously, but the reverse does not happen as there needs to be an event that triggers negative emotion and mood.
Concluding this section of the presentation, he demonstrates how emotion is recalled more easily for a positive memory than a negative memory and how the amygdala helps us to be in a good mood.
In major depressive disorder, patients show a greater amygdala response to sad faces while healthy controls showed a greater amygdala response to happy faces highlighting emotional processing bias in depression. (Victor et al., 2010)
Take Home Bullet Points
- A depressed patient who over-generalises is unable to provide good answers about their emotional health through a standard questionnaire assessment
- Experience sampling methods (ESM) provide a more reliable method of assessment over the course of a whole day
- The amygdala plays an important part in how we experience positive mood