New Theory on Depression
Randolph-Macon College psychology professor Kelly Lambert, Ph.D. is the author of
a new book about overcoming depression.
Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist’s Hands-On Approach to Activating Your Brain’s
Healing Power, offers new evidence that our increasingly sedentary lifestyle
is contributing to rising rates of depression in today’s society. Dr. Lambert found
that the positive outcome of simple, goal-oriented activities, something she calls
effort-driven rewards, help build up the brain’s defense against emotional
The most compelling argument for Dr. Lambert’s theory is her pioneering laboratory
research. She compared so-called “trust-fund rats,” who experienced rewards with
no effort, to hard working “trained-to-succeed rats.” The results showed that rats
that worked for rewards were more resilient than the ones that did little to no
work. Lambert found that physical effort activates key brain circuits and related
neurochemicals that influence our moods. She stresses that activities involving
your hands such as knitting, cooking, building, or gardening are especially helpful.
Dr. Lambert backs up her theory with the latest findings from neuroscience research
and several case studies. She also draws on her own experience of overcoming depression
after the death of her mother. The simple task of vacuuming gave her a sense of
accomplishment at a time when she felt that she had little control over the world
around her and prompted her to learn more about how our industrialized lifestlyes
have accompanied increased rates of depression over the last century. Lambert’s
research suggests that meaningful and productive physical effort has a more relevant
and meaningful impact on our emotional gauges than often debilitating antidepressant
Dr. Lambert is chair of the psychology department at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland,
Virginia and co-director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. Her research interests
focus on behavior-induced neuroplasticity, specifically how chronic stress and parental
experience alter behavioral and neurobiological responses.
She is widely published in scientific journals and is the co-author of Clinical
Neuroscience, with Craig Howard Kinsley, Ph.D. who is a professor of neuroscience
at University of Richmond. In addition, Lambert’s “smart rats” research was highlighted
in a book titled, The Mommy Brain by Katherine Ellison, which gained national
media attention including coverage on “The Today Show: and ABC’s “World News Tonight.”
That research concluded that mother rats are smarter and better at multitasking
than virgin rats.
For more information about Dr. Kelly Lambert or for questions about events at R-MC,
call Anne Marie Lauranzon at 804-752-7317, firstname.lastname@example.org.