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Smells that can help overcome depression.. So what is it?


Smells that can help overcome depression..

So what is it?

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that smells

are more effective than words in provoking positive memories

which may help depression sufferers emerge from negative thinking patterns.

Scientists exposed 32 people aged 18 to 55 with severe depressive

disorder to 12 odors in opaque vials.

Aromas included ground coffee

coconut oil :

cumin powder, red wine, vanilla extract, cloves, shoe polish, orange staple oil

ketchup and even the smell of the "Fix Faburab" ointment.

After sniffing the vials, neuroscientists asked participants to remember

a particular memory and whether it was good or bad.

Kimberly Young :

lead author of the study published in JAMA Network Open :

She is a neuroscience researcher and assistant professor of psychiatry

at the University of Pittsburgh School of

Medicine people who smelled familiar smells were more inclined to

remember a particular memory or event, Like being in a cafe a week ago

unlike the more general memory of going to the cafe at some point in their lives.

When compared to word signals

smells provoke memories that seem more "vital and real."

Young added:

"It was surprising to me that no one had thought of looking

at memory retrieval in those with depression using odour signals before."

She explained that activating a part of the brain called the amygdala

which controls the "confrontation or escape

response :

helps to remember because the amygdala draws attention to certain events.

Odors are likely to stimulate the amygdala through neural connections in

the olfactory onion

a mass of neuronal tissue associated with the sense of smell.

Depression sufferers reported difficulty remembering certain memories

from their autobiographies. Since Young knew that smell could provoke

happy memories in non-depressed people, she decided to

study smell and recall memory in depression sufferers.

Young said improving memory in people 

with depression could help them heal faster.

She revealed that :

"if we improve memory, we can improve problem solving and regulate emotions

and other functional problems that people with depression often experience."

Young plans to use a future brain scanner to demonstrate her

theory that odors interact with the brain amygdala of depressed people.