People Who are Depressed Experience Time More Slowly — And Yet Don’t


People who are depressed experience time simultaneously in two different ways, according to a review of studies in the Journal of Affective Disorders. They often subjectively experience time as passing much more slowly than people who aren’t depressed, but also experience and measure the actual passage of seconds, minutes and hours as accurately as anyone else.

Mainz University researchers looked at 16 studies involving 433 depressed subjects and 485 non-depressed control subjects. “Depressive patients perceive time as going by less quickly relative to control subjects,” they wrote. “However, the analyses showed no significant effects of depression in the four time perception tasks.”

“We found strong indicators that in depressed individuals the subjective feeling of the passage of time differs from the ability to assess the actual duration of external events,” said one of the authors in a press release. The authors indicated that they did not specifically analyze whether psychiatric medications may have been influencing some of the patients’ subjective experiences of time.

Thönes, Sven, and Daniel Oberfeld. “Time Perception in Depression: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Affective Disorders 175 (April 1, 2015): 359–72. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.12.057. (Abstract)