As a depressive person who has had her share of dark moods and dark thoughts, I always felt like there was a dreary grey veil across my vision. The world always seemed dismal and yet I lived in Florida, where beauty is everywhere. It was like an optical illusion to me. Well, scientists are now backing me up!
When you are depressed, everything around you really does look grey, according to a team of German scientists who say that depression causes changes in vision.
Depression has an effect on the eyes that makes it harder to detect distinct black and white contrasts, with the result that everything fades into blandness.
Researchers carried out tests on the retinas of patients which showed the effect — similar to turning down the contrast control on a TV.
Throughout the ages artists have always depicted depression using symbols of darkness or grey in their artistic creations.
The effect was so marked that scientists believe the test could provide an objective way of measuring depression levels.
The study, conducted by Dr Ludger Tebartz van Elst and researchers at the University of Freiburg, has been published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Dr John Krystal, who edits the journal, said: “These data highlight the profound ways that depression alters one’s experience of the world.
“The poet William Cowper said that ‘variety’s the very spice of life’, yet when people are depressed, they are less able to perceive contrasts in the visual world. This loss would seem to make the world a less pleasurable place,” he added.
The researchers measured electrical responses to gauge the activity of the retina in two groups of depressed and non-depressed individuals. The retina, at the back of the eye, contains the sensitive cells that turn light signals into nerve messages, making it possible to see.
Depressed patients were found to have dramatically lower retinal contrast “gain” than the volunteers who were not suffering from depression. It made no difference whether or not they were receiving antidepressant medication, which I find very interesting.
Dr Tebartz van Elst states: “This method could turn out to be a valuable tool to objectively measure the subjective state of depression, having far-reaching implications for research as well as clinical diagnosis of and therapy for depression.”
I think this test is fantastic and hopefully it will become mainstream in it’s use. Depression has always been very difficult to diagnose by mere anatomy. It usually is a process between you and your doctor. Hopefully, we can make progress to go along with the research and make depression one day obsolete. It may take a village, but we are getting closer….
For anyone who needs local help for depression here in West Palm Beach, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is located in Lake Worth, Florida. Their local # (561) 588-3477. They can also help you with any questions or referrals you may need.
My Contact: LisaRKohl@aol.com Email me anytime. (Always confidential) Thank you for subscribing to both my columns….:)