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Thinking better with depression

Mood disorder may provide an analytical lift

12:39pm, May 6, 2011

Depression may have an analytical upside. People hospitalized for this mood disorder display a flair for making good choices when many options must be considered one at a time, a new study finds.

Depression may prompt an analytical thinking style suited to solving sequential problems, such as deciding when to stop a house hunt and purchase a property or when to stop playing the field and marry a suitor, say psychologist Bettina von Helversen of the University of Basel in Switzerland and her colleagues.

It’s also possible that depressed people adopt a pessimistic outlook that encourages a thorough evaluation of available options, von Helversen's team suggests in an upcoming Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

“Depression may improve sequential decision making, which includes some high-stakes choices,” she says.

Von Helversen’s study is the first to demonstrate a thinking advantage for clinically depressed patients, possibl

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