Mood and Emotion in Major Depression

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depression, emotion, mood, affect, reactivity

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Nothing is more familiar to people than their moods and emotions. Oddly, however, it is not clear how these two kinds of affective processes are related. Intuitively, it makes sense that emotional reactions are stronger when they are congruent with a preexisting mood, an idea reinforced by contemporary emotion theory. Yet empirically, it is uncertain whether moods actually facilitate emotional reactivity to mood-congruent stimuli. One approach to the question of how moods affect emotions is to study mood-disturbed individuals. This review describes recent experimental studies of emotional reactivity conducted with individuals suffering from major depression. Counter to intuitions, major depression is associated with reduced emotional reactivity to sad contexts. A novel account of emotions in depression is advanced to assimilate these findings. Implications for the study of depression and normal mood variation are considered.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Current Directions in Psychological Science, v. 14, issue 3, p. 167-170