Monday, 12 December 2016
Surprising Pros and Cons of a Bad Mood
Surprising Pros and Cons of a Bad Mood
A negative mood may have some benefits, but chronic moodiness could hurt your health.
Everyone has the occasional bad mood. It might be the weather or something that happened
at work. But several studies suggest that a negative mood once in a while can have some benefits. On the other hand, a persistent bad mood could signal a serious health condition like depression
or a mood disorder, which can negatively affect your health.
Here are some ways that a little negativity might actually be good for you:
People in a bad mood are better at recalling details than people in a good one,
according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
The study compared shoppers in bad moods because of cold, rainy weather
with shoppers who were in good moods because of bright, sunny weather.
The shoppers in bad moods were better at recalling details of items they had seen earlier in the day. Researchers suggest that a bad mood may help boost memory and improve attention to details.
One explanation for this is that a bad mood causes people to be more skeptical
and careful when analyzing their surroundings.
A negative mood can help you better judge certain social situations, according to another study. Researchers showed individuals a videotape of people — both truthful and dishonest
— who have been accused of theft and assert they’re innocent.
Researchers found that people in a negative mood tended to be skeptical — accusing more people of theft — and were also more often correct in their judgments than people in positive moods.
People in negative moods were also less likely to be fooled by urban myths.
A 2007 study found that people in a negative mood are more likely to stick with a difficult task,
and less likely to self-handicap or “anticipate failure on a self-relevant task and create impediments
to success,” as compared to people in neutral moods. The study also found that people
in a positive mood are more likely to give up on a difficult task and more likely to self-handicap.
Dangers of a Chronic Bad Mood
There’s a big difference between a bad mood and depression.
Depression is associated with unrelenting feelings of sadness and hopelessness,
and changes in sleep and eating patterns that interfere with your daily life.
The symptoms of a bad mood aren’t as severe and usually go away after a few days.
“If folks are always in a bad mood, they may have a mood disorder that’s undiagnosed,
like dysthymia [a chronic type of depression],” says Jair Soares, MD, PhD, professor
and chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences
at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Dysthymia symptoms typically last for at least two years, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with dysthymia are characterized as complaining constantly, being overly critical, and unable to have fun. Dysthymia can respond to medication and psychotherapy, including counseling and talk therapy,
says Dr. Soares.
“Chronic stress or unhappiness is bad for your body,” says Soares.
Some not-so-obvious health risks associated with chronic depression include:
Inflammation. “There’s research showing that if you’re chronically stressed or have chronic depression that causes more systemic inflammation in the body, and that could have an impact on the brain as well,” says Soares. The connection between depression and inflammation,
the body’s response to infection, continues to be studied.
Heart risk. “Sustained stress and depression are additional risk factors for cardiovascular problems,” says Soares.
Ill-effects on diabetes. People with diabetes who are depressed have a more than
a 40 percent higher risk for a severe low blood sugar episode that causes hospitalization,
according to a 2013 study in the Annals of Family Medicine.
One possible reason for this is that depression can actually cause a psychobiological change
that causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels, making it harder to prevent low blood sugar levels.
A bad mood is usually transient. But if symptoms persist, consult your doctor or therapist.
“There are some people in a low mood, that’s their natural disposition. The glass is always
half empty with them,” Soares says. “If they want to change, psychotherapy may help them.”
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