Predict Depression Using Angry Faces

Predict Depression Using Angry Faces

Depression is a complex disorder about which very little is known because there are many factors that could play a role in its causes. However, one of the keys to predicting depression might be the type of stimuli we pay attention to, According to a team of researchers from the University of Bringhamton.


This team of scientists conducted an experiment using 160 women as a sample, 60 of whom had been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. Each of these volunteers had to look at two types of images: a face with a neutral expression and another face that might show a state of sadness, Anger or joy.

Using a gaze tracking system, the researchers were able to follow the path of the eyes and see the points in each series of images that sparked the most interest in women. In this way, they were able to analyze the results obtained for each person and relate them to their history, finding that volunteers with diagnosed depression tended to look more at faces that showed anger.

Looking more in the face of anger indicates a higher risk of depression

However, the most interesting from a practical point of view is another of the results obtained. The researchers followed these 60 women in the “depression” group and verified how those who, during the experience, tended to pay more attention to angry faces showed a higher risk of relapsing into another seizure over the next two years.. It was also noted that these women were more likely to go through another stage of depression before the rest of the volunteers.

In a way it means just paying attention to some negative aspects of relationships with others could increase the chances of developing depression. Thus, creating intervention programs in which people are trained to change their patterns of care could be helpful in, so to speak, making it easier for them to see the bright side in life.

But in the short term, the most important thing is that this simple facial test could help detect cases where the risk of developing depression is higher and take the appropriate action before it happens.

bibliographical references

  • Woody, ML, Owens, M., Burkhouse, KL and Gibb, BE (2015). Selective attention to angry faces and risk of major depressive disorder in convergent women

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