Daily Stresses Linked With Long-Term Mental Illness
April 3, 2013

Daily Stresses Linked With Long-Term Mental Illness

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once famously said “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” However, new research suggests that the stresses of day-to-day life can take a toll on a person´s long-term mental health.

Using data from a pair of national surveys, University of California, Irvine psychological scientist Susan Charles and colleagues set out to examine the relationship between daily negative emotions brought on by those stresses and mental health outcomes a decade later.

Their goal was to determine whether or not our daily emotional experiences make us stronger and better equipped to handle future stresses, or if they accumulate until we finally get to the point where we simply can´t take it anymore.

As it turns out, the overall levels of negative emotions experienced by the study participants predicted psychological distress including feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and nervousness. The researchers also found a correlation between these emotions and diagnoses of emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression a full 10 years after those feelings were initially measured.

Furthermore, they discovered that the subjects´ negative emotional responses to daily stressors such as arguments or on-the-job problems predicted psychological distress and self-reported emotional disorders a decade later.

According to Charles, her team´s findings demonstrate that it isn´t just major life events that have major impacts on a person´s mental health. Seemingly minor emotional experiences also play a role, and the chronic nature of negative feelings that result from daily stressors can have a major impact on a person´s long-term mental health.

Other co-authors of the study included Jennifer Piazza of California State University, Fullerton; and Jacqueline Mogle, Martin Sliwinski, and David Almeida of Pennsylvania State University. Their findings have been published in the journal Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The studies used as the basis for their research were the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) and National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE). Both studies included a large nationwide sample of 711 participants, both men and women, between the ages of 25 and 74.