Social inferences as mediators of wellbeing in depression

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Background: Depression is an increasingly prevalent chronic mental health condition that involves a range of potentially negative implications, in the long term. Theory of Mind (ToM) serves to form and maintain social relationships, by accurately identifying thoughts and emotions in others. Defective ToM abilities have been noted in people with a history of clinical depression. Purpose: To identify whether impairments of emotion recognition are correlated with a lower subjective feeling of wellbeing in people diagnosed with a chronic depressive illness. Patients and Methods: In a cross-sectional analysis of a recurrent depressive disorder (RDD, as per WHO ICD-10 nosology) cohort (n=57), the BECK depression scale and the “Reading the mind in the eyes” test were employed for the diagnosis of clinical symptoms, and for the evaluation of individual ToM skills, respectively. Wellbeing was quantified using the FANLCT scale. Results: The wellbeing of service-users decreased significantly, in correlation with their defective emotion recognition abilities. Additionally, a low capacity for the correct perception of emotions in other people appears to significantly influence the social relationships status, with scores of 14.00 (10.00–18.50) at low capacity vs 23.00 (17.58–24.75) at normal capacity (Mann–Whitney U-test, p < 0.001). Our study findings indicate that a normal ability for a correct recognition of emotions in others is significantly and strongly correlated with adequate social relationships (Spearman r = 0.757, p < 0.05). Conclusion: Wellbeing is significantly correlated with the individual ability for a correct recognition of emotions in others.




Giurgi-Oncu, C., Bredicean, C., Frandeș, M., Enătescu, V., Papavă, I., Riviș, I., & Ursoniu, S. (2021). Social inferences as mediators of wellbeing in depression. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 17, 1679–1687.

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