Time perception in anxious and depressed patients: A comparison between time reproduction and time production tasks

J Affect Disord. 2016 May 15;196:154-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.02.047. Epub 2016 Feb 19.


Several studies reported temporal dysfunctions in anxious and depressed patients. In particular, compared to controls, anxious patients report that time is passing fast whereas depressed patients report that time passes slowly. However, in some studies, no differences between patients and controls are reported. Direct comparison between studies may be complex because of methodological differences, including the fact of conducting investigations with different temporal ranges. In the present study, we tested a group of anxious patients, a group of depressed patients, and a control group with two temporal tasks (time reproduction and time production) with the same temporal intervals (500, 1000 and 1500ms) to further investigate the presence and cause of patients' temporal dysfunctions. Results showed that, compared to controls, anxious patients under-reproduced temporal intervals and depressed patients over-produced temporal intervals. The results suggest that time dysfunction in anxious patients would be mainly due to an attentional dysfunction whereas temporal dysfunction in depressed patients would be mainly due to variations in the pulses' emission rate of the pacemaker.

Keywords: Anxiety; Attention; Depression; Internal clock; Time production; Time reproduction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attention
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Perception*