Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Sadness


People sometimes experience a strong emotional response to artworks. Previous studies have demonstrated that the peak emotional experience of chills (goose bumps or shivers) when listening to music involves psychophysiological arousal and a rewarding effect. However, many aspects of peak emotion are still not understood. The current research takes a new perspective of peak emotional response of tears (weeping, lump in the throat). A psychophysiological experiment showed that self-reported chills increased electrodermal activity and subjective arousal whereas tears produced slow respiration during heartbeat acceleration, although both chills and tears induced pleasure and deep breathing. A song that induced chills was perceived as being both happy and sad whereas a song that induced tears was perceived as sad. A tear-eliciting song was perceived as calmer than a chill-eliciting song. These results show that tears involve pleasure from sadness and that they are psychophysiologically calming; thus, psychophysiological responses permit the distinction between chills and tears. Because tears may have a cathartic effect, the functional significance of chills and tears seems to be different. We believe that the distinction of two types of peak emotions is theoretically relevant and further study of tears would contribute to more understanding of human peak emotional response.

Concepts: Psychology, Understanding, Perception, Emotion, Respiration, Emotions, Sadness, Crying


Medical research is moving toward prevention strategies during prodromal states. Postpartum blues (PPB) is often a prodromal state for postpartum depression (PPD), with severe PPB strongly associated with an elevated risk for PPD. The most common complication of childbearing, PPD has a prevalence of 13%, but there are no widespread prevention strategies, and no nutraceutical interventions have been developed. To counter the effects of the 40% increase in monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) levels that occurs during PPB, a dietary supplement kit consisting of monoamine precursor amino acids and dietary antioxidants was created. Key ingredients (tryptophan and tyrosine) were shown not to affect their total concentration in breast milk. The aim of this open-label study was to assess whether this dietary supplement reduces vulnerability to depressed mood at postpartum day 5, the typical peak of PPB. Forty-one healthy women completed all study procedures. One group (n = 21) received the dietary supplement, composed of 2 g of tryptophan, 10 g of tyrosine, and blueberry juice with blueberry extract. The control group (n = 20) did not receive any supplement. PPB severity was quantitated by the elevation in depressed mood on a visual analog scale following the sad mood induction procedure (MIP). Following the MIP, there was a robust induction of depressed mood in the control group, but no effect in the supplement group [43.85 ± 18.98 mm vs. 0.05 ± 9.57 mm shift; effect size: 2.9; F(1,39) = 88.33, P < 0.001]. This dietary supplement designed to counter functions of elevated MAO-A activity eliminates vulnerability to depressed mood during the peak of PPB.

Concepts: Amino acid, Nutrition, Dietary supplement, Neurotransmitter, Bipolar disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Monoamine oxidase, Sadness


Previous research has shown that in response to a monotonous, boring lab situation, non-clinical participants voluntarily self-administer electric shocks. The shocks probably served to disrupt the tedious monotony: they were the only available external source of stimulation. Alternatively, the shocks might have functioned to regulate the negative emotional experience caused by the induction of boredom, consistent with theories on the function of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). According to this latter explanation, induction of other negative emotions would also increase the administration of shocks. To test this explanation, 69 participants watched a monotonous, sad or neutral film fragment, during which they could self-administer electric shocks. Participants in the boredom condition self-administered more shocks and with higher intensity, compared to both the neutral and sadness condition. Sadness had no effect on the self-administration of shocks. The effect of boredom was more pronounced in participants with a history of NSSI: they administered more shocks in the first 15min. The results indicate that the shocks function to disrupt monotony and not to regulate negative emotional experience in general. Moreover, boredom appears an important impetus for NSSI.

Concepts: Explanation, Emotion, Suffering, Self-harm, Boredom, Emotions, Sadness, Mortification of the flesh


This study examined the impact of three clinical psychological variables (non-pathological levels of depression and anxiety, as well as experimentally manipulated mood) on fat and taste perception in healthy subjects. After a baseline orosensory evaluation, ‘sad’, ‘happy’ and ‘neutral’ video clips were presented to induce corresponding moods in eighty participants. Following mood manipulation, subjects rated five different oral stimuli, appearing sweet, umami, sour, bitter, fatty, which were delivered at five different concentrations each. Depression levels were assessed with Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI) and anxiety levels were assessed via the Spielberger’s STAI-trait and state questionnaire. Overall, subjects were able to track the concentrations of the stimuli correctly, yet depression level affected taste ratings. First, depression scores were positively correlated with sucrose ratings. Second, subjects with depression scores above the sample median rated sucrose and quinine as more intense after mood induction (positive, negative and neutral). Third and most important, the group with enhanced depression scores did not rate low and high fat stimuli differently after positive or negative mood induction, whereas, during baseline or during the non-emotional neutral condition they rated the fat intensity as increasing with concentration. Consistent with others' prior observations we also found that sweet and bitter stimuli at baseline were rated as more intense by participants with higher anxiety scores and that after positive and negative mood induction, citric acid was rated as stronger tasting compared to baseline. The observation that subjects with mild subclinical depression rated low and high fat stimuli similarly when in positive or negative mood is novel and likely has potential implications for unhealthy eating patterns. This deficit may foster unconscious eating of fatty foods in sub-clinical mildly depressed populations.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Glucose, Taste, Seasonal affective disorder, Beck Depression Inventory, Grammatical mood, Sadness


This cross-sectional study aims to determine the prevalence and determinants of depressive symptoms in first-time expectant fathers during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. As part of a prospective study examining depressive symptoms in men over the first postnatal year, 622 men (mean age = 34.3 years, ±5.0 years) completed standardized online self-report questionnaires measuring depressed mood, physical activity, sleep quality, social support, marital adjustment, life events, financial stress, and demographics during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. The Edinburgh Depression Scale was used to assess depressed mood. Partners also completed the Edinburgh Depression Scale in the third trimester. The results revealed that 13.3% of expectant fathers exhibited elevated levels of depressive symptoms during their partner’s third trimester of pregnancy. Significant independent factors associated with antenatal depressive symptoms in men were poorer sleep quality, family history of psychological difficulties, lower perceived social support, poorer marital satisfaction, more stressful life events in the preceding 6 months, greater number of financial stressors, and elevated maternal antenatal depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of including fathers in the screening and early prevention efforts targeting depression during the transition to parenthood, which to date have largely focused only on women. Strategies to promote better sleep, manage stress, and mobilize social support may be important areas to address in interventions tailored to new fathers at risk for depression during the transition to parenthood.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Fatigue, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Depression, Sadness


Depressive thoughts are known to persist in persons with depressed mood leading to rumination and exacerbation of depressive symptoms. What has not yet been examined is whether this persistence of depressive thoughts can lead to impairment of working memory (WM).

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Fatigue, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Sadness


Most measures of depression severity are based on the number of reported symptoms, and threshold scores are often used to classify individuals as healthy or depressed. This method - and research results based on it - are valid if depression is a single condition, and all symptoms are equally good severity indicators. Here, we review a host of studies documenting that specific depressive symptoms like sad mood, insomnia, concentration problems, and suicidal ideation are distinct phenomena that differ from each other in important dimensions such as underlying biology, impact on impairment, and risk factors. Furthermore, specific life events predict increases in particular depression symptoms, and there is evidence for direct causal links among symptoms. We suggest that the pervasive use of sum-scores to estimate depression severity has obfuscated crucial insights and contributed to the lack of progress in key research areas such as identifying biomarkers and more efficacious antidepressants. The analysis of individual symptoms and their causal associations offers a way forward. We offer specific suggestions with practical implications for future research.

Concepts: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Escitalopram, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Depression, Suicide, Sadness


Research on deficits in emotion regulation has devoted considerable attention to emotion-regulation strategies. We propose that deficits in emotion regulation may also be related to emotion-regulation goals. We tested this possibility by assessing the direction in which depressed people chose to regulate their emotions (i.e., toward happiness, toward sadness). In three studies, clinically depressed participants were more likely than nondepressed participants to use emotion-regulation strategies in a direction that was likely to maintain or increase their level of sadness. This pattern was found when using the regulation strategies of situation selection (Studies 1 and 2) and cognitive reappraisal (Study 3). The findings demonstrate that maladaptive emotion regulation may be linked not only to the means people use to regulate their emotions, but also to the ends toward which those means are directed.

Concepts: Psychology, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Emotion, Depression, Types of psychological depression, Grief, Sadness


We investigated whether children tell white lies simply out of politeness or as a means to improve another person’s mood. A first experimental phase probed children’s individual insight to use white lies when prosocial behaviour was called for. We compared a situation in which a person had expressed sadness about her artwork and the goal was to make her feel better (Sad condition) with a situation in which a person was indifferent about her work (Neutral condition). Children at 7 years and older were more likely to tell a white lie than the blunt truth in the Sad over the Neutral condition. Five-year-olds showed only a trend. A second phase tested whether children selectively use white lie telling after it was modelled by an adult. Results showed that after modelling, children from all age groups were significantly more likely to use white lies in the Sad condition than in the Neutral condition. Taken together, these results show that children are attentive to another person’s affective states when choosing whether to tell a white lie or tell the truth. We discuss the emergence of this behaviour in relation to children’s developing social cognition and the increasing sophistication of children’s prosocial behaviour.

Concepts: Psychology, Truth, Emotion, Lie, Sadness, Tell, Feel, Lies


Talbinah is a barley syrup cooked with milk and sweetened by honey. In his famous Hadith on Talbinah, the Prophet Mohammad (SAW) recommended it when sad events happen for its effect on soothing hearts and relieving sadness. This 3-week crossover designed, randomized clinical trial was conducted to determine the effect of Talbinah on mood and depression among institutionalized elderly people in Seremban. A sample of 30 depressed elderly subjects (21 men and 9 women) was selected from the long term care facility. Three different interview-based validated scales (Geriatric Depression Scale, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, and Profile of Mood States) were used to determine mood, depression, stress, and anxiety at week 0, 3, 4, and 7. The nutritional value of Talbinah was examined using proximate food analysis, minerals content analysis, and differential amino acid analysis. The results indicated that Talbinah is a high carbohydrate food (86.4%) and has a high tryptophan: branch chain amino acids ratio (1:2). A Wilcoxon nonparametric test showed that there was a statistically significant decrease on depression, stress, and mood disturbances scores among the intervention group (P < 0.05) for all parameters. In conclusion, Talbinah has the potential to reduce depression and enhance mood among the subjects. Ingestion of functional foods such as Talbinah may provide a mental health benefit to elderly people.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Amino acid, Acid, Nutrition, Food, Geriatrics, Seasonal affective disorder, Sadness