Major Depressive Disorder: Emerging Evidence for Emotion Context Insensitivity

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Book Chapter

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major depressive disorder, emotion context inensitivity, mood disturbance, emotion, depression, emotional responses, emotional reactivity

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Given that major depressive disorder (MDD) is essentially a disorder of mood, how does a major mood disturbance influence emotion? Using theory from affective science, in this chapter I first outline two initial hypotheses about how mood disturbance might influence depressed persons' responses to positive and negative emotional stimuli. Second, I review the empirical record, which includes a number of discrepancies that cannot be easily accommodated by these initial hypotheses. To better assimilate these discrepant findings, I outline an alternative theory-based hypothesis concerning emotions in MDD, which I call the emotion context insensitivity (ECI) hypothesis. I consider possible benefits of characterizing depression in terms of ECI and outline remaining areas of ambiguity concerning the ECI hypothesis. Finally, I outline several focal areas for future work designed to increase our understanding of emotional reactivity in MDD and the role that emotion plays in this disorder.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Major Depressive Disorder: Emerging Evidence for Emotion Context Insensitivity, in J. Rottenberg & S. L. Johnson (Eds.), Emotion and Psychopathology: Bridging Affective and Clinical Science, American Psychological Association, p. 151-165