A link between Left-Handedness and Depression

I had an ah-ha moment the other day when I was discussing with someone about their depression and how they never feel they are good enough. This person has tried many different medications and treatment for their condition with no help whatsoever. Even being off medications was slightly better than being on them but they will always suffer from their mental illness. My ah-ha moment however is when I thought “I wonder if it is because they are left-handed”. I, myself, is left-handed and I know the struggle of trying to get your brain to work harder when you live in a primarily dominate right-handed world. Not only am I or this person I know left handed, we are also ambidextrous, which means we can use both sides either equally or one side is dominated for certain things; that makes things way harder for us when it comes getting our brain to work properly.


I decided to look things up and found some amazing studies about this, which means, I am on to something! One article was from a study by Cornell University and the summary states:

“Treatment for the most common mental health problems could be ineffective or even detrimental to about 50 percent of the population, according to a radical new model of emotion in the brain.”

50% of the population are dominantly right-handed, 10% are dominately left-handed and 40% are in the middle (like me). They decided to really look at different studies that were conducted about how people get depressed or suffer from some kind of mental illness; the problem was the majority of these studies were done on right handed people only and since we know that each side of our brain is different, the studies are basically useless (except for that 50%). Here is something I found interesting in the article:

The work has implications for a current treatment for recalcitrant anxiety and depression called neural therapy. Similar to the technique used in the study and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it involves a mild electrical stimulation or a magnetic stimulation to the left side of the brain, to encourage approach-related emotions.

But Casasanto’s work suggests the treatment could be damaging for left-handed patients. Stimulation on the left would decrease life-affirming approach emotions. “If you give left-handers the standard treatment, you’re probably going to make them worse,” Casasanto said.

“And because many people are neither strongly right- nor left-handed, the stimulation won’t make any difference for them, because their approach emotions are distributed across both hemispheres,” he said.

“This suggests strong righties should get the normal treatment, but they make up only 50 percent of the population. Strong lefties should get the opposite treatment, and people in the middle shouldn’t get the treatment at all.”

However, Casasanto cautions that this research studied only healthy participants and more work is needed to extend these findings to a clinical setting.

“People in the middle shouldn’t get treatment at all” that part fascinated me because it seems that any treatment whether it is medication or neural therapy, won’t help at all. It will help one side but not the other. I say the 40% is screwed! (No, I am joking, we are not screwed, but definitely have a more difficult road).


So what is the answer here? Clearly we do not have it yet and I am unsure if doctors or experts have really dived into this subject and I think they should. One researcher from Ireland named Kevin Denny, found out that 5% of the 10% population of left-handedness are more likely to experience some kind of anxiety or depression then right-handed people. If that is true, why isn’t this more of a discussion than it actually is? I mean, I have severe depression, the person I know that got me thinking suffers from severe depression and anxiety; even Kurt Cobain and Chester Bennington we’re left handers and ultimately committed suicide over their mental anguish. What more needs to be done to get this subject rolling? How many of us need to suffer or die before it finally comes to light? I am no expert but I do have experience in how much I suffer on a daily basis. They say we use our right sides more which is the creative and artistic side, we use our emotions more and have our heart on our sleeve; ever heard of the phrase “A depressed artist”? I rest my case…

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you feel I may be on to something or shooting in the dark? Share below!

– J

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