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Psychother Psychosom. 2006;75(2):85-95.

Psychological well-being and ill-being: do they have distinct or mirrored biological correlates?

Author information

1
Institute on Aging, Medical Science Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA. cryff@facstaff.wisc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Increasingly, researchers attend to both positive and negative aspects of mental health. Such distinctions call for clarification of whether psychological well-being and ill-being comprise opposite ends of a bipolar continuum, or are best construed as separate, independent dimensions of mental health. Biology can help resolve this query--bipolarity predicts 'mirrored' biological correlates (i.e. well-being and ill-being correlate similarly with biomarkers, but show opposite directional signs), whereas independence predicts 'distinct' biological correlates (i.e. well-being and ill-being have different biological signatures).

METHODS:

Multiple aspects of psychological well-being (eudaimonic, hedonic) and ill-being (depression, anxiety, anger) were assessed in a sample of aging women (n = 135, mean age = 74) on whom diverse neuroendocrine (salivary cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, DHEA-S) and cardiovascular factors (weight, waist-hip ratio, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, total/HDL cholesterol, glycosylated hemoglobin) were also measured.

RESULTS:

Measures of psychological well-being and ill-being were significantly linked with numerous biomarkers, with some associations being more strongly evident for respondents aged 75+. Outcomes for seven biomarkers supported the distinct hypothesis, while findings for only two biomarkers supported the mirrored hypothesis.

CONCLUSION:

This research adds to the growing literature on how psychological well-being and mental maladjustment are instantiated in biology. Population-based inquiries and challenge studies constitute important future directions.

PMID:
16508343
DOI:
10.1159/000090892
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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