World Mental Healthcare Association

Paying More Attention To Sad Faces Increases Depression Risk In Teenagers: Study

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Mental Health News: Binghamton University researchers found that teenagers who usually pay more attention to sad faces have a higher risk of developing depression.

In the new study, researchers examined the impact of sustained attention of adolescents to emotional facial displays on individual differences to real-world stress and physiological reactivity. The research assessed teenagers via eye-tracking and found out how biased attention is associated with teenagers’ response to stress. The study result showed that increased attention to sad faces is interlinked with depression risk among young adults.

“If a teenager has a tendency to pay more attention to negative stimuli, then when they experience something stressful they are likely to have a less adaptive response to this stress and show greater increases in depressive symptoms,” said Cope Feurer, a graduate student and associate author of the study. Feurer and Brandon Gibb, another author of the research, explained that a specific biological mechanism is responsible for the brain’s ability to control emotional reactivity.

“So, when teenagers who tend to pay more attention to sad faces experience stress, they may respond more strongly to this stress, as they have difficulty disengaging their attention from negative emotions, leaving these teens at increased risk for depression,” said Feurer.

The researchers believe that older adults are more likely to develop depression due to their attentional biases as the brain controls emotional reactivity more effectively during late adolescence. The study results help people better understand these risk factors of depression in teenagers. The findings have important implications for researchers to identify and develop interventions to mitigate the risk factors before it leads to depression.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Feurer, C., James, K.M., Foster, C.E. et al. Sustained Attention and Individual Differences in Adolescents’ Mood and Physiological Reactivity to Stress. J Abnorm Child Psychol 48, 1325–1336 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-020-00679-8

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