Depressed Worriers May Have Advantage

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., April 2 (UPI) — For those both depressed and worrying, the anxiety of chronic worry may modify some of the ill effects of depression, U.S. researchers found.

University of Illinois psychology professor Gregory A. Miller, who led the research with University Illinois psychology professor Wendy Heller, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brains of people with depression and two types of anxiety — anxious arousal, the fearful vigilance that sometimes turns into panic and anxious apprehension, or worry.

“Although we think of depression and anxiety as separate things, they often co-occur,” Miller said in a statement.

The brain scans were done while participants performed a task that involved naming the colors of words that had negative, positive, or neutral meanings.

The study found the brain scans of a worried and depressed person doing the emotional word task were very different from those of a vigilant or panicky depressed person.

Despite depression, the worriers did better on the emotional word task because they were better able to ignore the meaning of negative words and focus on the task — identifying the color and not the emotional content of the words.

The findings are published in the journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience.

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