Critical slowing down as a personalized early warning signal for depression (2015)

M. Wichers*, P.C. Groot, I.A. van de Leemput, M. Scheffer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

240 Citations (Scopus)


About 17% of humanity goes through an episode of major depression at some point in their lifetime. Despite the enormous societal costs of this incapacitating disorder, it is largely unknown how the likelihood of falling into a depressive episode can be assessed. Here, we show for a large group of healthy individuals and patients that the probability of an upcoming shift between a depressed and a normal state is related to elevated temporal autocorrelation, variance, and correlation between emotions in fluctuations of autorecorded emotions. These are indicators of the general phenomenon of critical slowing down, which is expected to occur when a system approaches a tipping point. Our results support the hypothesis that mood may have alternative stable states separated by tipping points, and suggest an approach for assessing the likelihood of transitions into and out of depression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-116
Number of pages2
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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