What Is Depressed Affect?

Reviewed by Lauren Guilbeault

Published 06/21/2022

According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, affect is seen as a psychological term to imply “an observable expression of emotion." Descriptively, a person's affect refers to the expression of feelings and emotions shown to others via hand gestures, facial expressions, voice tone, and signs of emotions, including tears or laughter. Examples of affect may include sadness, fear, joy, and anger.

Moreover, individual affect swings according to an emotional state. The broad affect, which is a standard range of affect, varies between different cultures and even within a culture. Someone may show facial expressions or gestures while talking to react to stimuli. Others may display little external response to interactions or social environments to express their emotions to the world

Furthermore, affect as an outward expression of your internal emotion can be in two different ways: positive or negative feelings or reaction. It is seen as the general term for "evaluation," “mood," and "emotions."  Evaluations are the overall positive or negative feelings in reaction to a specific thing or person.

Likewise, moods are experienced as general affirmative or negative feelings; but, they are different by not being elicited in reaction to anything or anyone specific. For instance, you can tell the cause of your feelings when you're in a bad mood. This is why several people may express that the cause of their bad mood is because they "woke up on the wrong side of the bed." Emphatically, moods are not attached to an object or a person. Moods may be similar to evaluation because they relatively last long.

In contrast to both moods and evaluations, emotions are “highly" specific affirmative or negative responses to a particular object, event, or person. It's established that moods and evaluations are relatively long-lasting. However, emotions are experienced relatively for short periods and have shorter durations than evaluations or moods. Emotions are known to be more severe than moods and provide you with the opportunity to describe your feelings more clearly than how moods or evaluations do. Emotions help specify exactly the type of negative feelings you have, such as anger, sadness, or anger.

Affect colors how you see the world and your feelings about objects, events, and people. According to research, it has a lot to do with how you interact socially, make decisions, behave, and process information.

What Are The Types Of Affect?

Many people experiencing mental health disorders may show variations in their affect. The following are some of the different types of affect:

  • A Constricted Or Restricted Effect: A constricted affect is characterized by a mild restriction in the intensity or range of display of what is felt.
  • A blunted Affect: A blunted affect is characterized by the "reduction in the display of emotion” that becomes intense.
  • Flat Affect: Flat affect is characterized by “the absence of an exhibition of emotions." When it's experienced, the voice, face, and body become monotone, expressionless, and immobile.
  • Labile Affect: Labile affect is characterized by "emotional instability or dramatic mood swings".
  • Inappropriate Affect: Inappropriate affect is characterized by “the outward display of emotion," which does not correspond with the situation. Here, you may be laughing while describing sadness or pain
  • Euthymic Mood: Euthymic mood is technically the “normal stable mood without complaints."

What Is Depressed Affect?

Basically, depressed affect refers to a mental and physical state experienced by people who feel enmeshed in their physical or emotional condition. Those suffering from depressed affect always battle with the feeling of isolation. According to research, it's believed that there's a relationship between depressed affect and lack of stimulation. Consequently, this can put you in "a mental and physical state of neutrality" that can lead to extreme indifference and disregard for tasks such as caring for yourself. If depressed affect becomes too severe, it can lead to death.

What's The Relationship Between Affect And Cognition?

Affect (moods) and cognition (thoughts) are usually contrasted. However, the link between them is obviously not straightforward. There are researches that of the standpoint that you can't experience affect without cognition coming in first. In contrast, others view that effects occur without being preceded by any component of cognition. Taking a closer look at their different grounds, it's found that much of their points are directed towards the specific type they are individually referring to. In addition, several scholars believed that thoughts (cognition) are necessary to experience emotions, whereas thoughts may not be necessary for individuals' expression of evaluations or preferences.

More so, it's claimed that  affect can influence cognitive processes. For instance, your affect can exert an influence on your propensity to use stereotypes. If you're in a happy mood, you're susceptible to use stereotypes when trying to make others' impressions than when you're in sad moods. Also, if you're in happy moods, you will be less affected by the intensity of a persuasive argument than when you're sad. In short, happy moods pave the way for increased healthy behavior. 

What Are Affective Disorders?

Affective Disorders are mental health disorders experienced when people's affect (mood) is observably altered. They are mood disorders that affect your thoughts and feelings. The symptoms of affective disorders may be severe. Without appropriate treatment, these symptoms may not go away and possibly become worse.

There are two common types of affective disorders are depression and bipolar disorder.

  • Depression: Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness. It occurs when feeling down becomes persist. Before you can be diagnosed with depression, you must see your symptoms for at least two weeks. Potentially, to know your depressive symptoms, click here for a quick depression test. It's also very important that you see a doctor for assistance before they begin to seriously interfere with your day-to-day activities. Also, depression can result in thoughts of death or suicide.

The types of depression include major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and postpartum depression. If you're experiencing depression, you may develop secondary conditions such as chronic pain syndrome, diabetes, thyroid disease, heart disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease.

The symptoms of affective disorders associated with depression include:

  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Significant changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Unusual and chronic mood changes
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Aches and pains that have no physical explanation
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder can sometimes be called manic-depressive illness. It often leads to mood swings (mood swings may include depressive episodes along with periods of hypomania or mania). You may feel very happy and experience increased energy, but then these good sensations are followed by feeling blue. At times, both are experienced at once and extremely. If bipolar disorder is left unresolved, they may become part of you throughout your entire life. The types of bipolar disorder include bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia.

The symptoms of affective disorders associated with bipolar disorder (during mania) include:

  • Self-importance
  • Needing less sleep
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Recklessness
  • Exaggerated self-confidence
  • Impulsiveness
  • Delusions or hallucinations

What Are The Causes Of Affective Disorders?

There is still further research on the causes of affective disorders because they aren't fully understood. However, some explanations support the claim that some things are triggers of affective disorders. These include: 

  • Chemical Imbalance: According to studies, it's shown that brain chemicals or neurotransmitters are contributors to mood disorders. This occurs when the chemicals are imbalanced or not signaling to your brain properly. It still yet to be fully understood what causes a chemical imbalance in the brain.
  • Life Events: Life events have been well-studied and confirmed as potential triggers that can tend to affective disorders. Undoubtedly, a personal loss or traumatic event can cause depression or some other forms of affective disorders. In addition, the intake of drugs and alcohol can also increase the risk of experiencing affective disorders.
  • Genetic Factor: It's also shown that if a form of disorder runs in the family or if someone has it, it exposes you to the risk of developing such a condition. This implies that affective disorders can be hereditary. However, even if they can be inherited, it does not guarantee that you will experience it.

What Are The Treatments For Affective Disorders?

Affective Disorders have two main treatments. These include medications and therapy. Your doctor may combine both for effective treatment. Other supplement approaches could be involved in your treatment— these may consist of "vitamin D supplements" and "light therapy. " In addition, your doctor can also recommend specific lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, regular exercising, and eating a healthy diet.

  • Medications: The common medications to deal with depressive symptoms are antidepressants. There are different kinds of antidepressants, and your doctor may need to direct you to use several of them before you are relieved of the symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy: Several people prefer therapy to medication for different reasons. Psychotherapy is an important and effective treatment for mental illness. There are lots of benefits attached. Primarily, it will help you manage your condition and perhaps change lifestyles that contribute to it.