Further evidence of emotional allodynia in unmedicated young adults with major depressive disorder

Alexander Ushinsky, Lindsay E. Reinhardt, Alan N. Simmons, Irina A. Strigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Recent evidence suggests that sensitivity to the emotional sequela of experimental thermal pain(measured by emotional unpleasantness) is heightened in individuals with major depressive disorder(MDD), a phenomenon we termed "emotional allodynia". The aim of this study was to examine whether acute happy and sad mood induction alters emotional allodynia in MDD. We hypothesized that emotional allodynia will be a robust characteristic of individuals with MDD compared to healthy controls. Thus, it would remain following acute mood induction, independent of valence. Methods: Twenty-one subjects with current MDD and 21 well-matched healthy subjects(HC) received graded brief temperature stimuli following happy and sad mood inductions procedures(MIP). All subjects rated the intensity and affect(pleasantness/ unpleasantness) of each stimulus. Sensory(pain intensity) and affective(pain unpleasantness) thresholds were determined by methods of constant stimuli. Results: The MIPs reliably induced happy and sad mood and the resulting induced mood and subjective arousal were not different between the groups at the time of temperature stimulation. Compared to HC, MDD individuals demonstrated emotional allodynia. We found significantly decreased affective pain thresholds whereby significantly lower temperatures became unpleasant in the MDD compared to the HC group. This was not observed for the sensory pain thresholds. Within the MDD, the affective pain thresholds were significantly lower than the corresponding pain intensity thresholds, whereby non-painful temperatures were already unpleasant for the MDD irrespective of the induced mood. This was not observed for the HC groups where the affective and pain intensity thresholds were comparable. Conclusions: These findings suggest that emotional allodynia may be a chronic characteristic of current MDD. Future studies should determine if emotional allodynia persists after psychological or pharmacological interventions. Finally, longitudinal work should examine whether emotional allodynia is a result of or vulnerability for depression and the role it plays in the increased susceptibility for pain complaints in this disorder. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere80507
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 28 2013
Externally publishedYes

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