Study Suggests Smell Therapy Could Help People with Depression

February 15, 2024

A study published this week in JAMA Network Open suggests that familiar scents could help individuals with depression recall specific memories, something that has been identified as a difficulty for those dealing with depression.

Kymberly Young, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburg and a member of the research team for the new study, was quoted on saying, "It's not that depressed patients don't have memories - it's that they're having trouble accessing them." Young continued that being able to recall specific memories "is associated with better problem-solving skills and better emotional regulation," suggesting that smell therapy could help people with depression.

Michael Leon, Professor Emeritus of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California, Irvine, who wasn't involved in the new research, was also quoted, saying, "The olfactory system is the only sensory system that has a direct, superhighway access to the memory centers of the brain and the emotional centers of the brain. All the other senses have to take the side streets to get there."

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