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Surprising Science

Depression Alters How Time Feels

Depression alters people’s perceptions of how things feel. But time, which may seem like such a static thing, feels different to people with depression — it feels slower.

Time seems to drag for people who suffer from depression, according to researchers. Melissa Dahl from NYMag writes about how depression makes people feel different about certain things in life — the joy of hanging out with friends or engaging in once fulfilling activities, may hold little value to someone living with the illness. It leaves people with little to occupy themselves with.

No wonder researchers reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders that depressed people felt that time passed more slowly. The researchers conducting the study had 433 depressive patients and 485 healthy control subjects participating in a series of time-related exercises. They assessed how accurately both groups could judge how much time had passed in several experiments testing “verbal time estimation, time production, time reproduction, and duration discrimination.” For instance, in one experiment, the participants had to assess how long a short film lasted, and in another, they had to press a button after they thought five seconds had passed.

Their results indicated that there were no significant differences between how depressed and non-depressed folks measured time. However, when researchers asked both groups to rate the “subjective flow of time,” the results were quite different. The depressed group felt that time moved more slowly than those without depression.

It’s quite interesting that someone who is depressed can accurately measure time the same way as someone without depression, but that those five or 10 minutes can feel completely different.

Read more at NYMag.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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