How sad

Kevin Lewis

August 17, 2019

Recent increases in depressive symptoms among US adolescents: Trends from 1991 to 2018
Katherine Keyes et al.
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, August 2019, Pages 987–996

Methods: Data are drawn from 1991 to 2018 Monitoring the Future yearly cross-sectional surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students (N = 1,260,159). Depressive symptoms measured with four questions that had consistent wording and data collection procedures across all 28 years. Age–period–cohort effects estimated using the hierarchical age–period–cohort models.

Results: Among girls, depressive symptoms decreased from 1991 to 2011, then reversed course, peaking in 2018; these increases reflected primarily period effects, which compared to the mean of all periods showed a gradual increase starting in 2012 and peaked in 2018 (estimate = 1.15, p < 0.01). Cohort effects were minimal, indicating that increases are observed across all age groups. Among boys, trends were similar although the extent of the increase is less marked compared to girls; there was a declining cohort effect among recently born cohorts, suggesting that increases in depressive symptoms among boys are slower for younger boys compared to older boys in recent years. Trends were generally similar by race/ethnicity and parental education, with a positive cohort effect for Hispanic girls born 1999–2004.

Is there a relationship between chocolate consumption and symptoms of depression? A cross‐sectional survey of 13,626 US adults
Sarah Jackson et al.
Depression and Anxiety, forthcoming

Methods: The data were from 13,626 adults (≥20 years) participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007–08 and 2013–14. Daily chocolate consumption was derived from two 24‐hr dietary recalls. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ‐9), with scores ≥10 indicating the presence of clinically relevant symptoms. We used multivariable logistic regression to test associations of chocolate consumption (no chocolate, non‐dark chocolate, dark chocolate) and amount of chocolate consumption (grams/day, in quartiles) with clinically relevant depressive symptoms. Adults with diabetes were excluded and models controlled for relevant sociodemographic, lifestyle, health‐related, and dietary covariates.

Results: Overall, 11.1% of the population reported any chocolate consumption, with 1.4% reporting dark chocolate consumption. Although non‐dark chocolate consumption was not significantly associated with clinically relevant depressive symptoms, significantly lower odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms (OR = 0.30, 95%CI 0.21–0.72) were observed among those who reported consuming dark chocolate. Analyses stratified by the amount of chocolate consumption showed participants reporting chocolate consumption in the highest quartile (104–454 g/day) had 57% lower odds of depressive symptoms than those who reported no chocolate consumption (OR = 0.43, 95%CI 0.19–0.96) after adjusting for dark chocolate consumption.

An experimental study of a virtual reality counselling paradigm using embodied self-dialogue
Mel Slater et al.
Scientific Reports, July 2019

When faced with a personal problem people typically give better advice to others than to themselves. A previous study showed how it is possible to enact internal dialogue in virtual reality (VR) through participants alternately occupying two different virtual bodies – one representing themselves and the other Sigmund Freud. They could maintain a self-conversation by explaining their problem to the virtual Freud and then from the embodied perspective of Freud see and hear the explanation by their virtual doppelganger, and then give some advice. Alternating between the two bodies they could maintain a self-dialogue, as if between two different people. Here we show that the process of alternating between their own and the Freud body is important for successful psychological outcomes. An experiment was carried out with 58 people, 29 in the body swapping Self-Conversation condition and 29 in a condition where they only spoke to a Scripted Freud character. The results showed that the Self-Conversation method results in a greater perception of change and help compared to the Scripted. We compare this method with the distancing paradigm where participants imagine resolving a problem from a first or third person perspective. We consider the method as a possible strategy for self-counselling.

Experimental manipulation of extraverted and introverted behavior and its effects on well-being
Seth Margolis & Sonja Lyubomirsky
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Research in personality psychology has remained predominantly correlational. For example, 3 decades of research demonstrate a robust cross-sectional relationship between extraversion and positive affect. A handful of studies, however, have examined this link experimentally, showing that extraversion boosts positive affect over short durations. If this is true, behaving in an extraverted manner should be a reliable method for increasing positive affect and, thus, suitable as a well-being-increasing practice. The current study instructed participants to engage in both extraverted and introverted behavior, each for 1 week. Participants increased in well-being when they were assigned to act extraverted and decreased in well-being when they were assigned to act introverted. These findings suggest that changing behavior associated with personality is possible and can impact well-being. More broadly, this study adds to a growing body of research on the potential of experimental methods in personality psychology.

Self-insight into emotional and cognitive abilities is not related to higher adjustment
Joyce He & Stéphane Côté
Nature Human Behaviour, August 2019, Pages 867–884

Despite the popularity of the Ancient Greek maxim ‘know thyself’, the importance of self-insight for adjustment, or effective psychological functioning, remains unclear. Here we examined four perspectives about how cognitive and emotional abilities and self-views about these abilities relate to adjustment. We administered tests of cognitive and emotional abilities and assessed self-views about these abilities. Participants then completed daily diaries for a week to report multiple self-reported indicators of adjustment. We analysed data using polynomial regression and response surface analysis. We found no support for benefits of self-insight. The conditions to infer support for linear or curvilinear associations between abilities or self-views about these abilities and adjustment were also not met. The findings suggest that giving employees and students feedback about their cognitive and emotional abilities in organizations and in schools may not enhance their adjustment. We discuss the limitations of our study and offer suggestions for future research.

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