We’ve known for quite a while that depressed people appear to have a more realistic perception of their importance, reputation, locus of control, and abilities than those who are not depressed. In fact this depressive realism was something the French philosopher Voltaire dealt with as early as 1759 in his novel Candide: Or, Optimism.
New research led by the University of Hertfordshire shows that depressed people are more accurate when it comes to time estimation than their happier peers.
In the study, volunteers gave verbal estimates of the length of different time intervals of between two and sixty-five seconds and they also produced their own time intervals. For non-depressed people, their verbal time interval estimations were too high; while their own production of times in the same range were too low. In contrast, the mildly-depressed people were accurate in both their verbal time estimates and also their own production times.
It’s said that the findings may help to shed light on how people with depression can be treated. People with depression are often encouraged to check themselves against reality, but maybe this timing skill can help in the treatment of mildly-depressed people. These findings may also link to successful mindfulness based treatments for depression which focus on encouraging present moment awareness.