Understanding Your Anima Depression Results: A Brief Overview

Sergiy Danylov, Ph.D. in Neuroscience June 13, 2023

“Evening Melancholy” by Edward Munch

Though the term “Anima” hails from Latin and “psyche” originates from Ancient Greek, both words converge on a single, profound meaning: the soul. When we ponder the concept of the soul, we imagine a complex tapestry woven from our emotions, experiences, and both conscious and subconscious thoughts.

To gain a more nuanced understanding of ourselves, it’s essential to take a holistic approach, blending these intricate aspects together. This is where the Anima tool becomes invaluable. Our tool employs an array of scientific methodologies to assess mental and emotional states, generating insights into your specific tendencies toward anxiety and depression.

Anima provides two separate tests: one targeting anxiety-related symptoms and the other focusing on depressive tendencies. Each test comprises self-report questionnaires in which you assess your own emotional state, as well as eye-tracking test analysis. Using eye-tracking technology, we capture your eye’s swift, subtle movements to uncover how you focus your attention. These movements, often occurring below your conscious awareness, significantly impact your emotional state. Our analysis offers a nuanced view of your unconscious attention patterns, enhancing the depth of your mental health assessment.

In addition to questionnaires and eye-tracking metrics, we also analyze their coherence: how your conscious perceptions of your mental state align with your subconscious processing. These combined methods enable us to inform you about the possible risk of anxiety or depressive disorders. However, it’s crucial to remember that risk and diagnosis are distinct. Anima helps you better understand your current mental condition, monitor mood fluctuations, and timely identify more serious mental health issues, so you can take appropriate action.

Depression Test

Understanding Your Questionnaire Metrics

To gauge how you perceive your emotional state, we employ validated questionnaires (such as PHQ-9), which have been substantiated by research. These questionnaires delve into various symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, difficulties with concentration, sleep issues, and changes in appetite. The tests determine threshold risk values to assess one’s mental state, helping to identify the potential presence or absence of depressive symptoms.

The responses shed light on an individual’s feelings and thoughts regarding their condition. However, our introspective capabilities have their limits. While observing ourselves, we might not always objectively evaluate our mental well-being. Numerous factors, like fatigue or immediate physiological needs, can skew our judgments. It’s not uncommon for us to exaggerate or diminish the significance of situations related to our mental health. Self-reflection is merely the first step in self-awareness. It highlights concerns and might prompt one to seek professional intervention or make necessary changes in life.

Depression severity Based on QuestionnairesExplanation and Recommendations
0-33 – minimal depressive symptomsA low depression score generally suggests a higher level of emotional well-being and effective daily functioning. It often indicates resilience to stress and a well-tuned set of coping strategies. However, it’s worth noting that such low scores can occasionally be misleading. Such scores might result from ‘defensive responding,’ a phenomenon where individuals downplay their symptoms to present themselves in a more positive light. That’s why it’s crucial to look beyond these scores, taking into account Anima’s broader range of indicators for a more nuanced understanding of your emotional landscape.
34-66 – moderate depressive symptomsThis level of reporting is usually associated with varying degrees of emotional discomfort, decreased interest in activities, and suboptimal daily functioning. Keep a keen eye on the dynamics of this score, as well as on risk thresholds and any differences between your current state assessment and retrospective evaluation. By actively monitoring your emotional state, you have the opportunity to mitigate the escalation of negative symptoms and gradually enhance your motivation and mood. 
67-100 – severe depressive symptomsSevere depressive symptoms warrant immediate professional consultation and open communication with loved ones. These scores signal deep-rooted concerns often stemming from stress, tough life events, or feelings of inadequacy. Dwelling excessively on these negative emotions can exacerbate depressive symptoms. A moment of critical self-reflection may reveal these thoughts as exaggerated or unverified.
If you find this self-reflection challenging, it’s a strong indicator that professional help may be beneficial. Therapeutic support equips you with the tools you need to accept and effectively manage your emotional state. Remember, addressing your challenges isn’t just about reassessing problems; it’s also about focusing on your goals and finding joy and inspiration in life. Therapeutic support equips you with the tools you need to accept and effectively manage your emotional state.

Understanding Your Eye-tracking Test Metrics

Eye-tracking tests illuminate how your emotional state influences attentional processes and the sensitivity of your brain’s reward systems. Like a lens focusing on specific facets of your well-being, these tests correlate closely with conditions that shape depressive disorders. Dysphoria and anhedonia act as psychological obstacles, inhibiting your ability to experience pleasure. While dysphoria manifests as negative emotions, anhedonia leads to a loss of motivation and interest in activities you once enjoyed. By pairing this eye-tracking data with self-reported metrics, we offer a holistic view of your emotional landscape, supplementing traditional assessments for a more nuanced understanding of your mental state.

Just like any test, eye-tracking is sensitive to how well instructions are followed. For accurate results, please adhere to these guidelines:

  1. Ensure your face is illuminated well, avoiding backlighting that might disrupt the webcam’s view.
  2. Remain still, keeping your head in one position during calibration and throughout the test.
  3. Allow your eyes to naturally explore the images without a preconceived focus. This unbiased observation lets your subconscious gravitate toward what it deems significant or captivating. 

Shifts in brain function that lead to anhedonia and dysphoria are often gradual, making these subtle attention biases a significant but underrecognized risk factor for mental disorders. Our eye-tracking depression indicator provides a nuanced view by analyzing your attention towards emotionally charged images. This metric combines both dysphoric and anhedonic biases, giving you a comprehensive snapshot of your emotional vulnerabilities.

Attention Bias ScoreExplanation and Recommendations
0-29 – subtle indicators of depressive mood A low depression attention bias score generally indicates a more balanced emotional well-being and effective coping mechanisms. This suggests that your focus isn’t skewed toward negative stimuli, a pattern often seen in depressive states. However, once you’ve identified your baseline score for this indicator, be alert for any significant declines. 
36-66 – mild indicators of depressive mood Mild indicators can subtly shape your perception of the world, nudging it towards a less optimistic outlook. While a single test merely captures a snapshot of your current behavioral inclinations, it’s still important to keep an eye on these patterns. If you find your focus leaning into the negative, realigning your attention may not demand a monumental effort. Yet, making these small adjustments over time can serve as preventative measures, equipping you with improved emotional resilience and a more balanced perspective on life.
67+ – severe indicators of depressive moodA heightened attention bias signals increased vulnerability. It’s vital to balance negative emotions with positive ones and see them as meaningful cues. These cues can teach us how to navigate challenges and avoid pitfalls. Elevated scores or a noticeable uptick in your attention bias metrics signal an immediate need for mood and focus regulation. Keep in mind, the earlier you seek guidance, the better.
For a deeper understanding of your reactions, identify the specific triggers or situations that lead to elevated scores. Recognizing these can empower you to proactively mitigate their impact, thereby fine-tuning your stress-management strategies and enhancing overall well-being.

Understanding Dysphoric Bias

Dysphoric Bias, calculated as a percentage based on the sets of images that invoked a particular perceptual strategy, serves as a nuanced behavioral indicator. Our white paper research indicates that Dysphoric Bias is linked to stress symptoms, negative emotions, sadness, irritability, a decline in social engagement, and even suicidal thoughts.

Elevated levels of Dysphoric Bias significantly correlate with a heightened risk for depressive disorders. If the test reveals high or increasing levels, this may indicate a heightened sensitivity to certain emotional cues or a situational dip in mood. Conversely, a notable decrease in Dysphoric Bias relative to your usual levels might act as a protective mechanism, allowing you to conserve mental resources by lessening the impact of negative information. Similar to attention bias in anxiety, this metric sheds light on how your brain tackles challenges and allocates coping resources.

Dysphoric Bias ScoreExplanation and Recommendations
0-16 – minimal or no bias The perception of negative stimuli can act as a mental safeguard, directing focus away from unpleasant factors to prevent becoming ensnared in a gloomy mood. This ability for quick emotional shifting supports effective problem-solving by exploring new pathways rather than fixating on challenges. Nevertheless, it’s important to monitor for significant shifts away from your typical levels of this metric. These shifts could signal a psychological defense mechanism is at play, with unconscious processes working to dull emotional impact ahead of stressful events. 
17-25 – moderate bias presentAt a moderate level of Dysphoric Bias, individuals may find themselves more attuned to negative or distressing stimuli in their environment. This heightened focus can create a feedback loop that amplifies emotional discomfort or stress. Keep an eye on this metric, especially if it’s elevated — it could signal a risk for depressive episodes. Tuning into your emotions helps pinpoint what triggers shifts in focus toward distressing stimuli. It’s worth noting that at certain life junctures, even sadness and negative moods can serve a purpose. They alert us to unmet needs or challenges, directing our attention toward areas that may require change or enhancement. These emotional states also encourage introspection and self-discovery, prompting questions about values, beliefs, and avenues for growth. Expressing these feelings can also help you seek external support. Ultimately, it’s crucial to understand why you’re feeling this way to promote personal growth. Remember, you generally have the power to choose your focus and regulate your mood.
26+ – high-risk zoneIn cases of severe Dysphoric Bias, the attention towards negative or distressing stimuli isn’t just heightened—it’s often magnified to an extent that can be debilitating. This intense focus can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, including severe depression, anxiety disorders, or even suicidal tendencies. The cycle becomes self-reinforcing: the more one concentrates on the negative aspects, the worse one’s emotional or psychological state becomes. If you find yourself too engrossed in negativity or distressing thoughts, strive for a more balanced attention allocation between the positives and negatives. Activities like sports, delving into art, hobbies, and the like aren’t just recreational—they’ve shown significant potential for mental health improvement and recovery post-depressive episodes. Should your Dysphoric Bias metrics rise, it may signal heightened sensitivity to negative cues. Consider reducing emotionally taxing situations and adopting strategies to conserve your mental resources.

Understanding Anhedonic Bias

Anhedonic Bias gauges the degree of reduced focus on pleasure-related stimuli and is determined by the percentage of image pairs where this perception strategy was observed. Just like attention bias towards anxiety-related stimuli, this measure gives insights into how your brain navigates pleasure and reward, assessing current opportunities and resources for emotional well-being.

According to our research, the Anhedonic Bias is intricately linked with a wide range of depressive symptoms, including low self-esteem, loss of pleasure, reduced social interest, and even suicidal thoughts. While this behavioral metric primarily captures attentional nuances, it directly correlates with a state of anhedonia — defined as a decreased interest or pleasure in almost all activities. This often shows up as a lack of motivation for new activities or even minor pursuits that would normally bring pleasure. According to current guidelines, persistent anhedonia for an extended period could warrant a depression diagnosis, even in the absence of sadness or a low mood.

From a neuroscience perspective, anhedonia is linked to the brain’s reward system, affecting three key aspects: looking forward to rewards, experiencing pleasure, and learning from enjoyable experiences. Those suffering from depression often show deficits in one or multiple of these aspects. This can manifest as lack of positive emotional expectations for future events, reduced focus on positive emotions, or even an inability to recall and associate positive emotions with different scenarios.

Anhedonic Bias ScoreExplanation and Recommendations
0-12 – minimal or no bias People with low anhedonia scores are generally adept at experiencing pleasure and showing interest in various activities. Their brain’s reward systems are often well-tuned, enabling them to effectively anticipate, experience, and learn from positive events. Whether it’s the thrill of an upcoming social event, the satisfaction of a job well done, or the simple joy of a favorite meal, these individuals can easily link positive emotions to specific situations.
13-18 – moderate bias presentPeople with moderate levels of anhedonia often experience a noticeable but not overwhelming reduction in their ability to feel pleasure or interest in activities that would typically bring them joy. While they may still engage in social events or pursue hobbies, the emotional rewards garnered from these activities are often muted. This emotional flatlining can manifest as a lack of enthusiasm for future events, decreased attention to their own positive emotions, and less motivation to initiate new activities or seek rewards. It’s a subtle yet impactful change, affecting overall quality of life and potentially serving as a precursor to more severe mental health conditions. If you’re noticing a diminished interest in potential rewards, this could be related to temporary exhaustion or fatigue. To improve your situation, consider the recommendations provided for the high-risk zone.
18+ – high-risk zoneHigh levels of anhedonic bias may signal unconscious shifts in different aspects of pleasure, such as motivation, joy during activities, or learning from positive experiences. These changes could be linked to work-related stress or recent challenging events. To improve your situation, focus on the following:Plan Joyful Activities: Schedule activities that uplift you or help you reach personal goals.Focus on the Positive: Actively spotlight the good aspects in your life.Foster Positivity: Engage in practices that encourage positive emotions, whether it’s gratitude exercises or helping others.Diversify Your Routine: Keep an emotional inventory to make your activities more engaging.

Coherence of Questionnaire Responses and Eye-Tracking in the Depression Test

The alignment between your survey results and attention bias metrics serves as an insightful lens, revealing how your conscious self-perception dovetails with your subconscious behavioral responses. Different degrees of this alignment suggest various approaches for self-awareness and coping strategies.

 Questionnaire Outcome Metrics
Low valuesHigh-Risk Indicators
Eye-Tracking Test Results: Attention Bias IndicatorsLow valuesTypically, such alignment indicates a lack of psychological conflict in assessing your own mental state. This enables quicker responsiveness to mood changes and offers the flexibility to shift your focus away from negative thoughts and toward pleasurable experiences.If you’re experiencing persistent low mood and other signs of depression but have low scores on the eye-tracking test, it’s important to understand that these results capture only a portion of the factors contributing to your mood and potential depressive states. Some individuals may struggle with cognitive elements like self-esteem, rumination (obsessive negative thoughts), and decreased attention span. Consider how long your low mood has been present and whether any past traumatic events could have triggered your depression. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.Remember, a bad mood isn’t always a sign of serious issues. Help yourself differentiate between actual difficulties and exaggerations. 
High-Risk IndicatorsIf you’re experiencing low levels of depressive symptoms but the eye-tracking test indicates high levels of anhedonic or dysphoric tendencies, it suggests there might be other underlying factors impacting your emotional health that you may not be fully aware of. Sometimes burnout and depressive signs appear out of nowhere, but they are usually the result of a lengthy, unnoticeable process where daily routine or life’s negative events gradually distort emotional perception. According to statistics, people tend to seek help an average of 10 years after their first depressive episode. Pay close attention to your emotional state, and follow guidelines that address dysphoria and anhedonia. Be open about your experiences with those around you, and seek support if you need it.If you’re experiencing high levels of depression along with strong attention biases, it’s crucial to recognize that these symptoms can interact with each other, potentially escalating your vulnerability and the severity of your condition. Don’t hesitate to seek help. Taking small, mindful steps to tune into your emotions and thoughts can help you regain control over your overall well-being.

In our research, we find a marked divergence between self-assessment scores and eye-tracking metrics related to depression among a specific subset of individuals. This disparity suggests that some users may be exaggerating the presence of depressive symptoms. Conventional screening techniques often fall short in capturing such nuances, primarily because the risk of missing a genuine disorder is far too great. This underscores the limitations inherent in questionnaire-based assessments, where queries serve as the sole medium for evaluating an individual’s mental state.

At Anima, we offer a nuanced approach that goes beyond mere self-reporting. Our methodology takes into account not just your responses but also evaluates your mental state through the analysis of attentional biases. This allows for a more comprehensive understanding of your emotional well-being.

Monitor any discrepancies between self-report scores and attention bias indicators closely. These inconsistencies could be revealing important aspects of your emotional state that warrant further exploration. When test results conflict, it’s crucial to consider the bigger picture. Your moods, physical and emotional well-being all play a role. Remember, test outcomes are tools, best understood in the context of your overall situation. Seek professional help if you’re struggling to make sense of your mental state.


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