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    recognition emotions major depressive disorder ICEERS study paper science

    Recognition of Emotions in Major Depressive Disorder


    Interventions for deficits in recognition of emotions in facial expressions in major depressive disorder: An updated systematic review of clinical trials


    José Augusto Silva Reis, Giordano Novak Rossi, Flávia L Osório, José Carlos Bouso, Jaime Eduardo Cecílio Hallak, and Rafael Guimarães dos Santos.

    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews



    About the study

    The study focuses on the recognition of emotions in facial expressions (REFE), a key aspect of social cognition, and its alteration in major depressive disorder (MDD). It reviews clinical trials to assess how treatments like antidepressants, psychedelics, and psychotherapy can normalize or reduce REFE biases in MDD patients.

    The review found that some interventions can help, but there’s high heterogeneity in the studies, indicating a need for more consistent evaluation tools.

    Understanding REFE in MDD can lead to better treatment approaches, potentially improving social functioning and quality of life for patients.



    The recognition of emotions in facial expressions (REFE) is a core construct of social cognition. In the last decades, studies have showed that REFE is altered in major depressive disorder (MDD), but the evidence is conflicting. Thus, we conducted a systematic review of clinical trials involving therapeutic interventions in MDD and any evaluation of REFE to update (2018–2023) and systematically evaluate the evidence derived from controlled clinical trials on the effects of therapeutic strategies to MDD on the REFE. Eleven studies were included in the final review. Some interventions, including drugs (ketamine, bupropion, psylocibin) and non-pharmacological strategies (psychotherapy) seem to be able to reduce pre-existing REFE biases in MDD patients. However, there was a high heterogeneity in the evaluated studies, in terms of sample, interventions, tasks and results. Further studies and more consistent evaluation tools are highly needed to better understand nuanced deficits and specific actions of different treatment options.


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    Categories: Studies & papers , Others
    Tags: scientific research , study , depression , social cognition , emotion processing , facial expressions