Blind to your own feelings
You feel uncomfortable without really knowing where the shoe pinches - everyone has probably experienced that at some point. For some people, however, it is fundamentally difficult to distinguish between frustration and sadness, anger and disappointment. A serious handicap, as a study suggests: good self-awareness can protect against depression even in youth.
A team led by psychologist Lisa Starr from the University of Rochester subjected around 200 young people to diagnostic interviews and asked them to record mood, any stress and related events four times a day for a week. A year and a half later, the boys and girls again provided information about their condition. While they could only vaguely differentiate between negative feelings during the first survey, a year and a half later they were more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms. The connection was strengthened if stressful events occurred in everyday life in the meantime.
"Teens who describe their negative feelings in a precise and nuanced way are better protected against depression than their peers who cannot," conclude the psychologists from the logs. In this way, young people could learn from their experiences and develop better strategies for dealing with negative emotions and stressful experiences. "You have to know how you're feeling to be able to change that," explains Lisa Starr. However, she believes that insight into one's own emotional life can be trained.
An experiment with more than 1000 middle-aged subjects recently showed that poor self-perception is also a warning signal in adults. The less their subjective experience of stress matched objective stress indicators, the poorer their psychological and physical well-being developed in the long term. It cannot yet be deduced that the undifferentiated experience of emotions is actually one of the causes of the psychological complaints. But at a young and middle age, it is an indication that the emotional balance is not at its best.