Abstract Background: Many studies on resilience have shown that people can succeed in preserving mental health after a traumatic event. Less is known about whether and how people can preserve subjective wellbeing in the presence of psychopathology. We examined to what extent psychopathology can co-exist with acceptable levels of subjective wellbeing and which personal strengths and resources moderate the association between psychopathology and wellbeing. Methods: Questionnaire data on wellbeing (Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life/Happiness Index), psychological symptoms (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales), and personal strengths and resources (humor, Humor Style questionnaire; empathy, Empathy Quotient questionnaire; social company; religion; daytime activities, Living situation questionnaire) were collected in a population-based internet study (HowNutsAreTheDutch; N=12,503). Data of the subset of participants who completed the above questionnaires (n=2411) were used for the present study. Regression analyses were performed to predict wellbeing from symptoms, resources, and their interactions. Results: Satisfactory levels of wellbeing (happiness score 6 or higher) were found in a substantial proportion of the participants with psychological symptoms (58% and 30% of those with moderate and severe symptom levels, respectively). The association between symptoms and wellbeing was large and negative (-0.67, P smaller than .001) but less so in persons with high levels of self-defeating humor and in those with a partner and/or pet. Several of the personal strengths and resources had a positive main effect on wellbeing, especially self-enhancing humor, having a partner, and daytime activities. Conclusions: Cultivating personal strengths and resources, like humor, social/animal company, and daily occupations, may help people preserve acceptable levels of wellbeing despite the presence of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
- protective factors