Study: Emotional Responses Now Affect Mental Health Later in Life

Leslie Carol Botha: If one accepts the premise that emotional health is tied to neuro-endocrine-immune health, i.e.; especially our endocrine health – then this study is spot on.  If your emotional responses are extreme at a young age – and they go unchecked as you age – have children etc – enter menopause – your emotional health will continue to deteriorate.

Negative Emotions in Response to Daily Stress Take a Toll On Long-Term Mental Health

ScienceDaily

stressApr. 2, 2013 — Our emotional responses to the stresses of daily life may predict our long-term mental health, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Psychological scientist Susan Charles of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues conducted the study in order to answer a long-standing question: Do daily emotional experiences add up to make the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or do these experiences make us stronger and provide an inoculation against later distress?

Using data from two national surveys, the researchers examined the relationship between daily negative emotions and mental health outcomes ten years later.

Participants’ overall levels of negative emotions predicted psychological distress (e.g., feeling worthless, hopeless, nervous, and/or restless) and diagnosis of an emotional disorder like anxiety or depression a full decade after the emotions were initially measured.

Participants’ negative emotional responses to daily stressors — such as argument or a problem at work or home — predicted psychological distress and self-reported emotional disorder ten years later.

The researchers argue that a key strength of the study was their ability to tap a large, national community sample of participants who spanned a wide age range. The results were based on data from 711 participants, both men and women, who ranged in age from 25 to 74. They were all participants in two national, longitudinal survey studies: Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) and National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE).

According to Charles and her colleagues, these findings show that mental health outcomes aren’t only affected by major life events — they also bear the impact of seemingly minor emotional experiences. The study suggests that chronic nature of these negative emotions in response to daily stressors can take a toll on long-term mental health.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.