Skip to main content

Describing Negative Emotions and Depression


Negative emotion differentiation (NED) refers to the ability to identify and label discrete negative emotions.

Are you the mom who says to your tantruming toddler, Use your words? That's good parenting in so many ways. Well actually, I found it quicker to turn the critter over and hold him up by his ankles, so he could ponder his universe from a different perspective. You could call that reframing. But that technique is more difficult to execute on a teenager.

Here is the latest reason why Use your words is good for your kid: the folk who get paid to come up with new things to research have discovered a relationship between teenagers and words. The more words they have to describe precisely their negative emotions, the less risk they have to develop depression in the face of high stress. And conversely:

Results suggest that low NED is primarily depressogenic in the context of high stress exposure.

That's from "The perils of murky emotions: Emotion differentiation moderates the prospective relationship between naturalistic stress exposure and adolescent depression,"  by Star, Hershenberg, Shaw, Li, and Santee.

That's what I'm here for. I find cool stuff in the scientific research world and translate it into English for you, dear reader. The more words you have for negative emotions = the less depression you get when stressed.

I'm all over this. I use words like my sister uses broken bits of tile, to turn loss into beauty. There's a bit of Mama's good china that hit the floor in this photo of the tabletop coming together in my sister's workshop:


So one of the things that pleases me about this research study is that I have discovered a new word, depressogenic: causing or tending to cause depression.

Google doesn't recognize euthymigenic. I made it up: creating or sustaining a normal, tranquil mental state or mood. In a sentence: Turning the broken bits of our lives, turning our losses into beauty is euthymigenic. My sister does this with tile. I do it with words. 

Here's an excerpt from Prozac Monologues: What If It's More Than Depression?

The DSM has its checklists. People with depression have poetry. 

People with diabetes discuss about their diet, their feet, their retinas. They check glucose levels. Put two diabetics at a table, they compare numbers.

People with depression talk in metaphor. We talk about the cloud, the curtain, the weight, the darkness. When it goes away, we say, “It lifted!” That lift is a physical sensation, actually, of lightness or elevation...

If I could just find the right words, maybe I could break the spell...

See, I always knew that increasing my vocabulary would help me. Turns out increasing my kid's will help him, too.

cartoon from memedroid.com
photos from the Pato Loco, Coco, Costa Rica by the author

Comments

Popular Posts

Loony Saints - Margaret of Cortona Edition

Every once in a while, Prozac Monologues reaches into my Roman Catholic childhood's fascination with saints, especially the ones who today might be assigned a diagnostic code in the DSM.  Twice, Lent Madness has introduced me to new ones that I share with you.



A few years ago it was Christina the Astonishing.










Today it's Margaret of Cortona.  If you're a Lent Madness regular, you'd expect Margaret to be a shoe in for the first round of voting, where her competition is a stuffy old bishop/theologian, because Margaret became a Franciscan and, more significantly, her story features a dog.  Lent Madness voters are suckers for dogs.

Giving thanks for Jerod Poore

Jerod Poore is the walking, talking, tweeting, posting wikipedia of all meds psychiatric and neurological. His manifesto: At Crazymeds[his original website] we make psychiatric and neurological conditions (AKA brain cooties) our bitches with evidence-based medicine and a healthy dose of gallows humor.

When I caught brain cooties fourteen years ago, Jerod was the first person I found who gave me genuine information. When the docs turned my brain into a chemistry experiment, Jerod told me what was happening to it.


That's the sketch I drew of my brain on drugs. Not the drugs they warn you about, but the drugs they scold you for refusing to take. Prozac, Celexa, Remeron, Cymbalta, Effexor.

Now, these are fine medications and do help people, notwithstanding the fact that they did not help me. It took years to figure out that my diagnosis was wrong, so these were the wrong medications for me anyway. If they help you, TAKE THEM.

But my mind was mush. The docs gave me precious little inf…

Antipsychotics and Loss of Brain Matter

What are antipsychotics doing in your brain besides preventing psychosis? This is a report on a study conducted from 1991 to 2009 that looked at that question.

Here is the context:

Progressive brain volume changes in schizophrenia are thought to be due principally to the disease. However, recent animal studies indicate that antipsychotics... may also contribute to brain tissue volume decrement. Because antipsychotics are prescribed for long periods for schizophrenia patients and have increasingly widespread use in other psychiatric disorders, it is imperative to determine their long-term effects on the human brain.

Before I get to what the study revealed, here is the investigator, National Medalist of Science winner, Nancy Andreasen.



Note: The interview was recorded twenty-five+ years after the study began and reflects a development in the questions pursued.

Objective of the study:

To evaluate relative contributions of 4 potential predictors (illness duration, antipsychotic treatment, ill…