If your boss asks you to prepare a presentation for 9 a.m. the following day, just as you were just about to head home, what do you feel--anger or frustration? Most of the time, we don’t really stop to think about the kind of emotions we’re experiencing, but MedicalNewsToday.com reports that it may be healthier to do so.

Being able to distinguish among an array of emotions is a good starting point for processing issues. Unfortunately, it’s not something that everyone instinctinvely does. Researcher Emre Demiralp and his colleagues from the University of Michigan wanted to find out if those that are categorized as clinically depressed have the ability to sort through negative feelings.

They invited people who are between 18 to 40 years old to participate in the study. In a group of 106, half were clinically depressed. For around a week, they were asked to carry digital organizers, on which they recorded what they were feeling 56 times in a day. They were tasked to classify positive emotions as “happy,” “excited,” “alert,” and “active,” and negative emotions as “sad,” “anxious,” “angry,” “frustrated,” “ashamed,” “disgusted,” and “guilty.”

Researchers found that all participants managed to distinguish positive emotions, but those who were clinically depressed were unable to differentiate negative emotions. This may partly explain their psychological condition and may hopefully help in the development of treatments in the future.

Demiralp concludes, “Our results suggest that being specific about your negative emotions might be good for you. It might be best to avoid thinking that you are feeling generally bad or unpleasant. Be specific. Is it anger, shame, guilt or some other emotion? This can help you circumvent it and improve your life.”

(Photo by Ashlee Martin via Flickr Creative Commons)

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