Decision time predicts the risk of depression relapse

From Neuroscience News: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd- This has always been a marker for me, so it’s interesting that it shows up generally…

In a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, researchers have shown that it is possible to predict the risk of relapsing into depression after stopping antidepressant medication. People who relapse take longer to decide how much effort to invest for a reward.

Depressive disorder is a major public health problem with an unpredictable course. It often recurs, with episodes of depression interspersed with periods of remission. Many studies have shown that in order to reduce the risk of relapse, treatment should continue even after symptoms have disappeared. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have any effect on the risk of subsequent relapse after the drugs have been discontinued. “It is estimated that 30% of patients relapse within six months of withdrawal. That’s a very high rate. And doctors currently have no reliable tools for estimating this risk”, says Isabel Berwian, psychologist.

The model showed that the nature of the choice (small effort for a small reward or larger effort for a larger reward) made it possible to differentiate between formerly depressed people and healthy people: the former more often chose the option that required the least effort. The researchers believe that in these people, depression may in fact persist, but asymptomatically.

The model also showed that people in remission are more sensitive to effort. Isabel Berwian explains the finding this way: “Imagine that one evening you are already in bed. Some friends invite you to go into town to have ice cream. A healthy person would probably get up and go out. A person who is suffering from a depressive episode would be more likely to stay in bed. Even if it’s something the person enjoys doing, it just seems like too much trouble.”

Conclusions and Relevance

This study found that the decision to invest effort was associated with prospective relapse risk after antidepressant discontinuation and may represent a persistent disease process in asymptomatic remitted major depressive disorder. Markers based on effort-related decision-making could potentially inform clinical decisions associated with antidepressant discontinuation.

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