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Emotion. 2015 Apr;15(2):211-222. doi: 10.1037/emo0000048. Epub 2015 Jan 19.

Valuing happiness is associated with bipolar disorder.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.


Although people who experience happiness tend to have better psychological health, people who value happiness to an extreme tend to have worse psychological health, including more depression. We propose that the extreme valuing of happiness may be a general risk factor for mood disturbances, both depressive and manic. To test this hypothesis, we examined the relationship between the extreme valuing of happiness and risk for, diagnosis of, and illness course for bipolar disorder (BD). Supporting our hypothesis, the extreme valuing of happiness was associated with a measure of increased risk for developing BD (Studies 1 and 2), increased likelihood of past diagnosis of BD (Studies 2 and 3), and worse prospective illness course in BD (Study 3), even when controlling for current mood symptoms (Studies 1-3). These findings indicate that the extreme valuing of happiness is associated with and even predicts BD. Taken together with previous evidence, these findings suggest that the extreme valuing of happiness is a general risk factor for mood disturbances. More broadly, what emotions people strive to feel may play a critical role in psychological health.

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