Changes in smell could be linked to symptoms of depression. A study conducted by the Dresden University of Technology (Germany) highlighted the intricate relationship between depression and the sense of smell
Can Smell Problems Lead to Depression? Maybe it’s not perfectly proven, but research conducted by the Dresden University of Technology highlighted a possible link between disturbances in this important sense and the onset of the terrible disease.
It is not even the first time that emphasis has been placed on this possible correlation: in the past it was view how older adults who lost their sense of smell were more likely to develop depressive symptoms in the future. And some previous clues had also pointed out how this relationship could be reciprocal, with patients with depression demonstrating an altered sense of smell.
Considering that depression is among the most common psychiatric illnesses, a multifaceted approach to its treatment would be beneficial – Agnieszka Sabiniewicz, who led the research, explains to PsyPost – At the same time, people suffering from olfactory dysfunction often report a deterioration of their sense of smell. mood and numerous researches have shown a connection between smell and depression. However, the nature of this connection remains to be explored
To reach their conclusions, the Dresden researchers devised a study “in reverse”, that is to verify whether an improvement in olfactory function could coincide with an improvement in depressive symptoms, in the absence of olfactory training. The study focused mainly on patients with dysosmiaan impairment of the olfactory function.
The research was conducted on 171 participants aged 14 to 87 who had visited a smell and taste clinic due to a olfactory impairment. According to the olfactory tests, most of the participants (157) reached the threshold for dysosmia, while a small minority (14) actually had a normal sense of smell.
Subsequently, twice about 11 months apart, each participant’s sense of smell was tested and they were assessed the symptoms of depression. Olfactory function was specifically assessed with olfactory threshold, discrimination and odor identification tests, and the three test scores were summed as a measure of overall olfactory function. The severity of depressive symptoms was instead measured with the General Depression Scale.
From the comparison of the data, it emerged how the improvements in depression were related to similar improvements in odor identification and general olfactory functionespecially among patients with dysosmia, who showed improvements in odor identification five times stronger than the entire sample of volunteers.
“Our study is the first to show that smell can be directly related to mood – continues the researcher – In other words, people who have had improvements in smell have shown a decrease in the severity of depression. This is one fascinating discovery which allows us to extend the perspective on the connection between olfaction and depression “.
Some research suggests that the relationship may be driven by shared connections within the brain. In fact, information relating to smell passes through many areas of the brain (including the amygdala, hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex), which also play a role in affective functions such asemotion processing.
The study, however, cannot be considered definitive: among the limits, which the authors themselves mention – the possible poor representativeness of the sample appears: all the participants in the study, in fact, had visited a treatment center in search of help for the damage olfactory and therefore may have demonstrated a greater number of symptoms of depression than people with olfactory problems who do not seek counseling.
It should be considered that for people seeking clinical counseling, their altered sense of smell usually causes emotional distress. sense of smell that do not feel the need to be treated
The work, published on Scientific Reportswill in any case be a spur for further information.
Sources: PsyPost / Scientific Reports
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