Time experience and time judgment in major depression, mania and healthy subjects. A controlled study of 93 subjects


Dr Tom Bschor, Department of Psychiatry, Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, D-01307 Dresden, Germany
E-mail: bschor@mailbox.tu-dresden.de


Objective:  Studies on the time sense of depressed patients have revealed inconsistent results. Manic patients have been almost neglected.

Method:  Patients with a major depressive episode (n = 32), or a manic episode (n = 30) (both Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview-confirmed), and 31 healthy controls were included. The subjective time experience was assessed by a visual analog scale (VAS), the objectively measurable time judgment abilities by the Chronotest, a computer program developed for this study, consisting of time estimation and time production tasks.

Results:  Controls reported a balanced, manic patients an enhanced, and depressive patients a slowed experience of time flow in the VAS (P < 0.001). In the time judgment tasks, however, both depressed and manic patients showed time overestimation for the longer time spans (P < 0.008).

Conclusion:  This largest study on time sense in manic patients confirmed results of a divergent alteration of time experience in depressive and in manic patients but revealed an uniform time overestimation by both patient groups in time judgment tasks.