Crying Threshold and Intensity in Major Depressive Disorder

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crying response, thresholds, intensity, emotional activation, depressed adults

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Clinical lore suggests that depression is associated with frequent and intense crying. To test these postulations empirically, a standardized cry-evoking stimulus was presented to depressed and nondepressed participants, and their likelihood of crying and the magnitude of crying-related changes in their emotion experience, behavior, and autonomic physiology were compared. Unexpectedly, crying was no more likely in depressed than in nondepressed participants. Within the nondepressed group, participants who cried exhibited increases in the report and display of sadness and had greater cardiac and electrodermal activation than did participants who did not cry. There was less evidence of this crying-related emotional activation within the depressed group. The lack of emotional activation among clinically depressed participants who cried provides a tantalizing clue concerning how emotions are dysregulated in this disorder.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Abnormal Psychology, v. 111, issue 2, p. 302-312