It is widespread news that depression constitutes a modern epidemic. It relates to individual suffering, distorts one’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural processes, and sometimes leads to suicide. However, the results of more recent psychological studies indicate that the experience of depression might be linked to particular benefits for the subject as well as to pain and despair.
I spent my first two years on PERFECT researching epistemic and psychological benefits of low mood and depressive delusions. Low mood occurring in mild and moderate forms of depression is linked to more accurate judgements about the self and self-related circumstances. In the view of trade-off accounts this means that the epistemic benefit of more realistic judgements is achieved at the price of well-being: something has got to give. However, according to empirical research, it is possible for the subject to be psychologically better-off despite other psychological costs. For example, the phenomenon of defensive pessimism, understood as using own anxiety in order to improve performance, seems to be more effective in people suffering from low mood rather than in controls. The experiences such as low mood are linked to psychological suffering, but at the same time they have the potential to make us psychologically better.
The other topic I have been working on relates to depressive delusions. Are there any delusions in depression? If so, how are they different or similar to those occurring in schizophrenia? What role may they play in a personal life story? Are depressive delusions adaptive? Do they carry potential for any other benefits for the subject? These are some of the questions that I address in my research.