Applying a Dynamical Systems Model and Network Theory to Major Depressive Disorder

Jolanda J. Kossakowski*, Marijke C. M. Gordijn, Harriette Riese, Lourens J. Waldorp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Mental disorders like major depressive disorder can be modeled as complex dynamical systems. In this study we investigate the dynamic behavior of individuals to see whether or not we can expect a transition to another mood state. We introduce a mean field model to a binomial process, where we reduce a dynamic multidimensional system (stochastic cellular automaton) to a one-dimensional system to analyse the dynamics. Using maximum likelihood estimation, we can estimate the parameter of interest which, in combination with a bifurcation diagram, reflects the expectancy that someone has to transition to another mood state. After numerically illustrating the proposed method with simulated data, we apply this method to two empirical examples, where we show its use in a clinical sample consisting of patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and a general population sample. Results showed that the majority of the clinical sample was categorized as having an expectancy for a transition, while the majority of the general population sample did not have this expectancy. We conclude that the mean field model has great potential in assessing the expectancy for a transition between mood states. With some extensions it could, in the future, aid clinical therapists in the treatment of depressed patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1762
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 7-Aug-2019


  • cellular automata
  • discrete dynamical systems
  • maximum likelihood estimation
  • nonlinear dynamics
  • psychopathology

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