When you’re depressed, the world becomes a gray, hazy place and things you normally would see and recognize get missed, according to author Terezia Farkas.
Writing for the website Beliefnet, Farkas points to studies that show that depressed people are less able to see differences between black and white contrasts and many things appear gray and tend to blur together. When a depressed person says the world looks bleak and gray, it’s actually true. And it doesn’t matter if the person is on antidepressants or not.
The Harvard Mental Health Letter reports that researchers at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg in Germany recruited 80 people to participate in a study of visual processing. Forty were diagnosed with major depression; 20 were taking antidepressants at the time of the study, while the others were not. The other 40 participants, who scored in the normal range on two common depression screening tests, served as controls.
“When compared with healthy controls, the participants with major depression — whether they were on medication or not — were significantly less able to detect differences in black and white contrasts on the checkerboards. The researchers also found a significant association between severity of depression (as measured by standard clinical instruments) and perception of contrasts. The lowest electrical recordings of retinal activity occurred in those participants who were the most depressed.”
Farkas writes that as depression becomes deeper and more severe, retina activity decreases. “That means your eyes stop taking in as much information from the world. That information is still out there, but the receptors at the back of the eyes aren’t taking it all in. So you’re seeing the world, but you’re missing out on most of it.”