Reduced positive affect on days with stress exposure predicts depression, anxiety disorders, and low trait positive affect 7 years later.

Gavin N. Rackoff, Michelle G. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Positive emotions serve important functions for mental health. Susceptibility to reduced positive emotions in the context of stress may increase risk for poor mental health outcomes, including anxiety and depressive disorders and low overall levels of positive emotion. In an 8-day daily diary study within a larger panel study (N = 1,517), we tested whether degree of reduction in time spent experiencing positive affect on days of stress exposure predicted lower levels of positive affect and elevated risk for major depressive and anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder) 7 years later. Bayesian multilevel structural equation modeling controlling for overall levels of affect, stress exposure, leisure time, sex, age, and past year diagnoses of depression and anxiety disorders was conducted. Participants, on average, reported less time experiencing positive affect on days with stressors compared to days without stressors. In addition, participants varied in the extent to which their time spent experiencing positive affect differed across days with and without stressors. Those who reported an especially reduced proportion of the day experiencing positive affect on days with stressors also experienced lower positive affect and greater risk for major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders 7 years later. These prospective associations suggest that between-person differences in the within-person association between stress and positive emotions have implications for mental health years later. The efficacy of preventive interventions could be improved by fostering resilience of positive emotions during common stressful events. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) General Scientific Summary: Positive emotions may promote mental health, yet they are depleted during exposure to stress. In an experience sampling study, susceptibility to lowered positive emotions on days with stressors was associated with low positive affect and depression and anxiety disorders 7 years later. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-809
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Volume129
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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