People with a history of depression respond differently from others to feeling guilty, brain scans show, a finding that may begin to explain how the emotions are processed by the brain.

Patients who had recovered from depression were more likely to show activation in areas of the brain associated with guilt, even when primed with scenarios in which someone else was at fault, according to a study released yesterday by the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Sigmund Freud had proposed a century ago that excessive guilt was part of depression.

Yesterday's study may point to how the brain experiences guilt and depression, said study author Roland Zahn of the University of Manchester. Though the study doesn't demonstrate whether the increased sensitivity to guilt causes depression, the imaging may lead to new ways of diagnosing vulnerability to the mood disorder. -- Bloomberg News

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