Depressed and angry: watch out!

People who are angry as well as depressed warrant additional attention and should possibly be offered more critical treatment. This particular combination may indicate a high-risk complex of symptoms, neuro-psychologist Floor Verhoeven discovered. PhD defence 6 November.

Faster and more serious treatment

People who are angry as well as depressed are generally suffering from a relatively serious form of depression, according to the findings of Floor Verhoeven in her PhD research. When people are angry, there is also a greater likelihood of other symptoms, such as anxiety and suicidal thoughts. These findings are largely borne out by previous studies. Verhoeven advises practitioners to monitor clients who are depressed and angry extra closely, and to start with a more advanced treatment. The goal of her research is to see that patients suffering from depression are given a more precise, individual classification so that the treatment can be more specific and more successful.


Physiologically measurable

Small physiological differences have been shown to exist between depression with and without anger, such as in the level of testosterone and cholesterol. Verhoeven also investigated the role of the gene Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), that codes for an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. These substances play an important role in depression. The results of the study show that the MAOA gene is not so much related to aggression but to anger or aggression linked to a depressed mood. Verhoeven discovered this link only among women.

Experiment and data research

Verhoeven conducted an experiment in which she temporarily lowered the serotonin level of people who had recovered from depression. She also used data from more than 900 participants in the NESDA cohort study. NESDA is a large, long-term study on anxiety and depression that has been running since 2004 and follows almost 3,000 people suffering from depression and anxiety. 

(3 November 2014)

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Last Modified: 05-11-2014