Introduction: In this study we tried to explore whether there are any associations between symptom severity and emotional facial expression recognition. Based on the literature and our earlier findings, we believe that the impairments of overall (not emotion specific) facial expression recognition is associated with a more general, non-specific psychiatric distress. Thus, first it was hypothesized that overall facial expression recognition would be correlated negatively with SCL-90 global severity index (GSI). Our second hypothesis was that the severity of the impairment in facial expression recognition would be correlated with symptom severity measured by the BECK Depression Inventory (BDI). Methods: One hundred and six depressed subjects participated in the study. We used a 'Virtual Human' for presenting the 35 emotional and neutral facial expressions. Subjects filled in the BDI and SCL-90 questionnaires after the facial expression recognition task. Results: Significant negative association was found between the GSI of SCL-90 and the overall facial expression recognition. Furthermore, significant negative correlation was found between the recognition of happy facial expressions and the depression severity measured by the BDI questionnaire and the SCL-90 depression subscale. Discussion: The negative association found between overall facial expression recognition and the GSI score provide empirical support to our first hypothesis, which states that the impairment of not emotion specific, overall facial expression recognition may correlate with a general psychiatric distress. Our findings indicate that those depressed subjects who had higher scores on BDI could recognize happy facial expression at a significantly lower rate. Abnormalities in reward sensitivity may explain this association between happy face recognition difficulties and the severity of depressive symptoms among depressive patients. Consequently, we can conclude that the recognition of happy facial expressions can be a useful tool for monitoring the severity of depression.
|Translated title of the contribution||Associations between symptom severity and emotion recognition in depressed patients|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Psychiatria Hungarica : A Magyar Pszichiátriai Társaság tudományos folyóirata|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|
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