Identification of emotional facial expressions following recovery from depression

J Abnorm Psychol. 2009 Nov;118(4):828-33. doi: 10.1037/a0016944.


This study investigated the identification of facial expressions of emotion in currently nondepressed participants who had a history of recurrent depressive episodes (recurrent major depression; RMD) and never-depressed control participants (CTL). Following a negative mood induction, participants were presented with faces whose expressions slowly changed from neutral to full intensity. Identification of facial expressions was measured by the intensity of the expression at which participants could accurately identify whether faces expressed happiness, sadness, or anger. There were no group differences in the identification of sad or angry expressions. Compared with CTL participants, however, RMD participants required significantly greater emotional intensity in the faces to correctly identify happy expressions. These results indicate that biases in the processing of emotional facial expressions are evident even after individuals have recovered from a depressive episode.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Attention
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Reaction Time
  • Recurrence