Theory of mind deficits in chronically depressed patients.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Hauptstrasse 5, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.29). 09/2010; 27(9):821-8. DOI: 10.1002/da.20713
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Poor theory of mind (ToM) performance has been found in patients with mood disorders, but it has not been examined in the subgroup of chronic depression where ToM deficits may be even more persistent than in acute depressive episodes. The aim of this study was to compare the ToM performance of chronically depressed patients with a healthy control group and to clarify the relation of ToM to other cognitive functions.
ToM performance was assessed in 30 chronically depressed patients and 30 matched healthy controls by two cartoon picture story tests. In addition, logical memory, alertness, and executive functioning were evaluated.
Chronically depressed patients were markedly impaired in all ToM- and neuropsychological tasks compared to healthy controls. Performance in the different ToM tests was significantly correlated with at least one other cognitive variable. After controlling for logical memory and working memory, no ToM tasks predicted being a patient.
Patients with chronic depression present significant deficits in "reading" social interactions, which may be associated with general cognitive impairments.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Chronic depression is assumed to be caused and maintained by interpersonal deficits. We describe the development and psychometric evaluation of the Interactive Test of Interpersonal Behavior (ITIB) that we developed for self-assessment of these deficits. Participants with chronic depression (CD, N = 15), episodic depression (ED, N = 15) and healthy controls (HC, N = 15) participated in this pilot study. They completed the ITIB and a number of pen and paper questionnaires including the Lübeck Questionnaire of Preoperational Thinking (LQPT) and the inventory of interpersonal problems (IIP). The ITIB was highly acceptable for use in these participants. Internal consistency for the ITIB was adequate for group comparisons (Cronbach's alpha = 0.649). Item-total correlations indicated adequate discriminatory power of five of the six items. The ITIB correlated moderately with the LQPT (r = 0.524) and the IIP (r = -0.568). The ITIB score differed significantly between the diagnostic groups (ANOVA F(2,42) = 6.22, p = 0.004). It was the only measure that - albeit at a trend level - was associated with diagnostic group (CD vs. ED) on multinomial logistic regression analysis (B = 0.049 ± 0.029; OR 1.051; p = 0.088). We found preliminary evidence that the ITIB is an acceptable and psychometrically adequate measure of interpersonal behavior that distinguishes between patients with CD and patients with ED. If replicated with an improved version of the test, our results could support the hypothesis that having interpersonal problems is a core deficit in patients with CD. © 2015 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 05/2015; DOI:10.1111/sjop.12222 · 1.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t There is a growing awareness that social cognition is a valuable construct for understanding the psycho-social disabilities in depressive illness. Numerous studies have linked affective disorders to impairments in social cognition and specifically the processing of discrete emotional stimuli. Only few studies have investigated the relation between the burden of depressive illness and social cognitive ability. To study these issues, we compared a group of first-episode depressed patients with a group of chronically depressed patients (duration 42 years) on a broad array of higher-order social cognitive measures including the metacognition assessment scale abbreviated. Contrary to prediction, deficits in social cognition were roughly equivalent between the two groups and there was no significant link between symptom severity and social cognitive ability. Having moderate to severe major depressive disorder (MDD) could be sufficient to predict the presence of deficits in social cognitive ability.
    Psychiatry Research 12/2014; 220(3):883-889. DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.10.005 · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: Patients with chronic depression (CD) experience a high burden of disease, severe comorbidity, and increased mortality. Although interpersonal dysfunction is a hallmark of CD, the underlying mechanisms are largely unexplored. Oxytocin (OT) has been proposed to play a crucial role in the social deficits of mental disorders and has been found to be dysregulated after social exclusion (ostracism) in patients with borderline personality disorder. This study investigated how social exclusion affects emotions, OT levels, and cortisol (CT) levels in CD patients. Method: Twenty-one patients diagnosed with CD and 21 healthy controls (HC) matched for gender, age, and education underwent repeated neuroendocrine measurements in a standardized laboratory setting while playing Cyberball, a virtual ball-tossing game that mimics a social exclusion situation. Emotional reactions, plasma OT and cortisol levels were assessed at baseline and 5, 15, and 40 min after Cyberball. Results: At baseline, there were no group differences in OT levels. Immediately after playing Cyberball, plasma OT levels showed divergent changes in CD patients and HC; the difference in direction of change was significant with a reduction in CD patients compared to HC (p = .035*); CT levels did not differ between groups at any time point, but decreased over time. Patients showed more threatened emotional needs and increased negative emotions, especially anger and resentment, and showed higher sensitivity to ambiguous threat of social exclusion than healthy controls. Conclusions: CD patients react to ostracism with pronounced negative emotions. The reduction in OT levels in CD patients after social exclusion may contribute to their interpersonal dysfunction and their difficulty in coping adequately with aversive social cues.
    Journal of Psychiatric Research 11/2014; 60. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.11.001 · 4.09 Impact Factor