Bad mood signals stress, how the body is coping with it

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Anger, angry man

Negative mood, like sadness and anger, is associated with higher levels of inflammation

A new study says that bad or negative mood, like anger, sadness and depression, may be an indication of poor health. This research was published in the journal Brain, behavior, and immunity.

Frequent bouts of bad mood or sadness are a sign that stress is going to have a harmful effect on you or you may be facing physical exhaustion.

Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in the US found that negative mood measured multiple times a day over time is associated with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers.

This extends prior research showing that clinical depression and hostility are associated with higher inflammation.

This effort is innovative because investigators not only used surveys which asked participants to recall their moods over a period of time, they also questioned participants how they were feeling in the instant

Inflammation is part of the body’s response to things such as wounds, infections and damage to tissues. Chronic inflammation can contribute to numerous diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

The Study

Nearly 220 participants took part in the study. Data of participants was generated from an ongoing study named as the “Effects of Stress on Cognitive Aging, Physiology, and Emotions” (ESCAPE) Study.

All the participants were racially, socio-economically and culturally diverse. Participants were asked to recall their emotional state over a period of time. They were also asked to report how they were feeling in the moment, in daily life.

These self-evaluations were taken over a period of two weeks. Then each was trailed by a blood draw to measure markers which indicated inflammation.

Results

The researchers observed that negative mood gathered from the week closer to the blood draw was related to higher inflammation levels.

Chief investigator Jennifer Graham-Engeland said, “Further analyses also proposed that the timing of mood measurement relative to the blood collection mattered. Particularly, there were stronger association trends between short-term negative effects and inflammation when the negative mood was measured closer in time to a blood draw.”

“This effort is innovative because investigators not only used surveys which asked participants to recall their moods over a period of time, they also questioned participants how they were feeling in the instant.”

Moreover, momentary positive mood was associated with lower levels of inflammation from the same week, but only among men.

“We hope that this research will prompt investigators to include momentary measures of stress and affect in research examining inflammation, to replicate the current findings and help characterise the mechanisms underlying associations between affect and inflammation,” Graham-Engeland said.

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