Wounds in the mouth and other mucous membranes may take longer to heal if individuals are depressed, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago examined the potential link between depression and its affect on the healing process of mucousal tissues.

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In the study, 193 undergraduate students aged 18 to 31, who had high and low scores on standard tests for depression, were given a small, circular wound on the roof of their mouth under local anesthesia. A daily videograph monitored the healing process. On average, healing took about seven days. However, in the depressed subjects, healing took longer than seven days.

The study may prove, according to researchers, that a depressed mood may increase the body’s inflammatory activity, which can lead to longer healing time.

The report is published in a recent issue of medical journal Pyschosomatic Medicine.