Preserving subjective wellbeing in the face of psychopathology: Buffering effects of personal strengths and resources

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
344 Downloads (Pure)

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 <.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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0150867
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10-Mar-2016

Keywords

  • STRESS SCALES DASS
  • MENTAL-HEALTH
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS
  • POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
  • COMMITMENT THERAPY
  • PURSUING HAPPINESS
  • SERVICE DOGS
  • RESILIENCE
  • METAANALYSIS

Cite this