"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Harnessing the sense of smell could help treat depression: study

February 14, 2024 – People with depression who get stuck in negative thought cycles may give you the chance to make use of their sense of smell to administer their symptoms, in line with a brand new study. People were asked to smell a dozen scents, from coffee to ketchup.

The Results were published this week in JAMA network opened and showed that folks with depression had more detailed memories after they were asked to smell something after which recall a private memory than after they were presented with a word after which asked to recall something from the past , which is said to the word.

The study examined autobiographical memory, which refers to the flexibility to recollect one's personal history. Participants within the study were instructed to recall specific memories, comparable to a visit to a coffee shop on a selected day.

The small study involved 32 adults who suffered from major depressive disorder. Individuals who suffered from psychosis or bipolar disorder or had a history of drug or alcohol abuse were excluded from the study. Of the 32 adults, 26 were women and the people within the study were between 18 and 55 years old.

Previous research has shown that folks with depression are less capable of recall certain memories, comparable to an event that occurred on a selected day. Even when an individual recovers from depression, this reduced ability to recall memories or factual details about themselves stays, the authors noted, adding that the deficit can affect an individual's quality of life. According to this, almost one in five adults within the USA can have been diagnosed with depression during their lifetime CDC.

For the study, people were asked to smell a complete of 12 scents and were also given 12 words that describe things which have different scents. After each word or scent was presented, the topic was asked to recall a particular memory. The stimuli included Vicks VapoRub, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, red wine, lavender and tobacco.

People within the study described the smells as more arousing and vivid than the words, but their recall of the smells was slower. After smelling an odor, the typical recall time was 14.5 seconds, in comparison with a median recall time of 8.9 seconds for a word cue. The researchers compared the performance of the individuals with depression to the previously published performance of the overall population, and the individuals with depression recalled fewer specific memories using words, but just as many specific memories using scents.

The findings are vital because other research studies have linked improved memory specificity in individuals with depression to a discount of their depression symptoms. This latest study could function a guide for developing a neurofeedback treatment for depression.

The brain processes smells in a way that, together with memories, may evoke more emotions, the researchers noted.

“If we improve memory, we can improve problem solving, emotion regulation, and other functional problems that depressed people often suffer from,” said researcher Kymberly Young, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry on the University of Pittsburgh, in a opinion.