An investigation of emotion dynamics in Major Depressive Disorder patients and healthy persons using sparse longitudinal networks



Background: Differences in within-person emotion dynamics may be an important source of heterogeneity in depression. To investigate these dynamics, researchers have previously combined multilevel regression analyses with network representations. However, sparse network methods, specifically developed for longitudinal network analyses, have not been applied. Therefore, this study used this approach to investigate population-level and individual-level emotion dynamics in healthy and depressed persons. Methods: Time-series data were collected in pair-matched healthy persons and major depressive disorder (MDD) patients (n=54). Seven positive affect (PA) and seven negative affect (NA) items were adminis tered electronically at 90 times (30 days; thrice per day). The population-level (healthy vs. MDD) and individual-level time series were analyzed using a sparse longitudinal network model based on vector autoregression. The characteristics of the longitudinal networks were investigated to gain insight into the emotion dynamics. Results: In the population-level networks, longitudinal network connectivity was strongest in the healthy group, with nodes showing more and stronger longitudinal associations with each other. Individually estimated networks varied strongly across individuals. Individual variations in network connectivity were unrelated to baseline characteristics (depression status, neuroticism, severity). A multilevel approach applied to the same data showed higher connectivity in the MDD group. Conclusion: The sparse network approach can be useful for the estimation of networks with multiple nodes, where overparameterization is an issue, and for individual-level networks. However, its current inability to model random effects makes it less useful as a population-level approach in case of large heterogeneity. Different preprocessing strategies appeared to strongly influence the results, impeding proper inferences about network density.
Date made available23-May-2017
Date of data productionJan-2011 - Jun-2013
Geographical coverageThe Netherlands

Keywords on Datasets

  • Depression
  • Emotion dynamics
  • Network model
  • Time series
  • Vector autoregression

Cite this