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Psychol Bull. 2015 Mar;141(2):311-63. doi: 10.1037/a0038101. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Interoceptive dysfunction: toward an integrated framework for understanding somatic and affective disturbance in depression.

Author information

1
Indiana University.

Abstract

Depression is characterized by disturbed sleep and eating, a variety of other nonspecific somatic symptoms, and significant somatic comorbidities. Why there is such close association between cognitive and somatic dysfunction in depression is nonetheless poorly understood. An explosion of research in the area of interoception-the perception and interpretation of bodily signals-over the last decade nonetheless holds promise for illuminating what have until now been obscure links between the social, cognitive-affective, and somatic features of depression. This article reviews rapidly accumulating evidence that both somatic signaling and interoception are frequently altered in depression. This includes comparative studies showing vagus-mediated effects on depression-like behaviors in rodent models as well as studies in humans indicating both dysfunction in the neural substrates for interoception (e.g., vagus, insula, anterior cingulate cortex) and reduced sensitivity to bodily stimuli in depression. An integrative framework for organizing and interpreting this evidence is put forward which incorporates (a) multiple potential pathways to interoceptive dysfunction; (b) interaction with individual, gender, and cultural differences in interoception; and (c) a developmental psychobiological systems perspective, emphasizing likely differential susceptibility to somatic and interoceptive dysfunction across the lifespan. Combined with current theory and evidence, it is suggested that core symptoms of depression (e.g., anhedonia, social deficits) may be products of disturbed interoceptive-exteroceptive integration. More research is nonetheless needed to fully elucidate the relationship between mind, body, and social context in depression.

PMID:
25365763
PMCID:
PMC4346391
DOI:
10.1037/a0038101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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