x

Find the Right Therapist

Find the Right Therapist

Advanced Search | Don't show me this again.

Call Us to Find a Therapist: 1-888-563-2112 ext.1

Find a Therapist on Your Own:

 

Fluctuations in Happiness May Predict Psychological Distress

 

Everyone experiences emotional highs and lows. Most people go through their days on a relatively stable emotional current, with mild mood fluctuations. External influences and events can cause spikes and dips in that current, but they generally are temporary in nature. For some people, however, emotional variability is a constant occurrence. Research has suggested that emotional variance can be a sign of poor mental health. In particular, people who experience continual highs and lows, and who maintain very little emotional stability long-term, may be at greater risk for borderline personality disorder and depression. However, until recently, most of the existing work has focused on overall levels of happiness and not variability of happiness. June Gruber of the Department of Psychology at Yale University wanted to look at this dynamic from a new perspective.

In a recent study, Gruber focused on happiness variance and stability as predictors of well-being and mental health. She conducted two separate studies, the first of which involved assessing the variability of positive emotions in a sample of 244 individuals over a period of two weeks. The second study examined how positive emotions fluctuated over the course of 24 hours in a sample of 2,391 French adults. Gruber found that in both studies, higher rates of emotional variability were strongly related to poorer mental health.

The individuals who experienced variability in positive emotions were less satisfied with life, and had lower well-being and more symptoms of anxiety and depression, than those with more stable positive emotional states. This finding could provide insight into why therapy approaches such as mindfulness have gained so much popularity. They focus on stabilizing emotional volatility and therefore help clients decrease emotional spikes that can lead to mood problems. Gruber believes that her research reveals that happiness in and of itself is not the only measure of mental well-being, but variance in levels of happiness over the course of even one day are quite predictive of mental health problems. “Specifically, too much variability and not enough stability in one’s positive feelings appear to co-occur with unhealthy psychological outcomes,” she said.

Reference:
Gruber, J., Kogan, A., Quoidbach, J., Mauss, I. B. (2012). Happiness is best kept stable: Positive emotion variability is associated with poorer psychological health. Emotion. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030262

© Copyright 2012 by www.GoodTherapy.org - All Rights Reserved.

Sign up for the GoodTherapy.org Newsletter!
Get weekly mental health and wellness news and information sent straight to your inbox!

  • Find the Right Therapist
  • Join GoodTherapy.org - Therapist Only
Comments
  • hollis December 15th, 2012 at 11:18 AM #1

    while being happy is always a welcome thing,I agree that sudden variances in happiness could be something undesired.Not only does it seem wrong from a psychology perspective but could be emotionally draining to the person and also affect those around the person.it can come in the way of social interaction and even make the person seem rude under certain circumstances.

  • danny collins December 15th, 2012 at 2:58 PM #2

    Easy to see how unstable mood can bring depression..When you are not able to hold on to a particular mood for too long your mood doesn’t correspond to what you feel for far too long..And that can really send a person into discord with his own feelings.Depression could be only the beginning because that can further ramify into so many other problems as Hollis here has pointed out.

  • josephine zed December 16th, 2012 at 9:52 AM #3

    wouldn’t this kind of be like bipolar?

  • Cyndi December 16th, 2012 at 12:12 PM #4

    Emotional stability rooted in a positive supportive environment is a basic human need. The results of this study is very important to unveil to the public, so we can remain open to learn, how to respond, in offering the gift of love.

Leave a Reply

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

 

 

* = Required fields

Find the Right Therapist

Advanced Search | Browse Locations

Content Author Title

Recent Comments

  • alison: Taking the first step is the hardest part. @Wendy sorry to hear about your cheating husband that sucks. We are stronger than anyone knows,...
  • Christina Dalpiaz: During 2nd week of relapse prevention group, I learned two young men who were incarcerated were having a birthday. The next week...
  • tara: Relationships r so difficult, ive been wit my partner, for 17 years now, we arent married his never asked its makin me bitter now. We have a...
  • Cam: I was neglected as a child. I remember being 2 years old and desperately trying to use a toaster to make toast. I used to eat the sulphur...
  • Emma: My grandson is 16 and is high functioning autistic. What I’ve found works for us is to make a chart for the morning and the evening....