Historically, studies associate self-professed high-power appraisals with bipolar and narcissistic personality disorders, which can lead to personal and social harm. They show that powerless and helpless feelings diminish immune system abilities, increasing mental and physical vulnerabilities. Recently, studies found that residents of developed countries where the highest degrees of income inequalities exist had triple the depression or anxiety risk, compared to those from nations with balanced income distributions.
Now, new research is the first to investigate how the dominance behavioral system affects multiple psychopathologies. It links affluence or financial struggles and positive or negative perceived social status and self- esteem to mental afflictions including bipolar disorder, depression, narcissistic personality disorder, and anxiety.
Are You Vulnerable?
An international tycoon’s ego may match the magnitude of his business empire, but excess wealth and power may compromise his mental health. That also could be true for the dwindling self-respect of people struggling between paychecks and those that are unemployed. A University of California at Berkeley study of 612 young adults highlights how financial worth and clout impact mental disorders. It substantiates how the ever-widening divide between wealthy and disadvantaged factions can be detrimental to health.
Psychologist and senior author Sheri Johnson discovered that important factors include personal motivation for power, aggressive and pro-social strategies for achieving it, emotions about attaining it, and attitudes about successful accomplishments. To understand subjects’ psychopathologies, she notes the importance of assessing personality traits including ruthless ambition, hubristic pride, and leadership uneasiness.
Participants with manic risks pursued power in spite of interpersonal consequences and experienced high degrees of pride. Those predisposed to depression or anxiety felt little power and limited satisfaction in their achievements. The researchers examined how subjects corresponded to the dominance behavioral system. Humans evaluate their social hierarchy standings, responding accordingly to uphold cooperation while thwarting aggression and conflict. According to evolutionary theory, dominant beings acquire better access to sources necessary for successful reproduction and species survival.
Subjects appraised measures including their social status, determination to attain power, leadership suitability, and degree of pride along with their inclination to experience manic, depressive, or anxious symptoms. A test gauged them on two types of pride. They based authentic pride on particular achievements that involved positive self-esteem and social behaviors. Hubristic pride encompassed overconfidence, hostility, aggression, and weak interpersonal skills.
In another test for hypomania tendencies, subjects ranked statements by their agreement or disagreement strengths. Some felt so optimistic and energetic that they could outdo nearly anyone else at anything. Others preferred to have just average successes over extraordinary failures in life. In general, perceived power successes and disappointments had strong associations to mood disorder vulnerability.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you’re experiencing extreme mood shifts ranging from high, restless mania to low, listless depression, you could be one of the 5.7 million Americans suffering from bipolar disorder. During manic episodes, you probably feel overly optimistic, energetic, and euphoric. When depressive periods strike, sadness, hopelessness, and guilt may include suicidal thoughts. Minor to severe manic and depressive phases alternate, lingering days or weeks to months.
When depression occurs alone, you feel sad, unhappy, or empty most almost every day. To balance mood swings, your doctor might prescribe Abilify (Aripiprazole), an antipsychotic drug. It will improve the way your dopamine receptors function to treat both bipolar and depressive disorders.
Bipolar Disorder Management Tips
TheInternational Bipolar Foundation and other experts offer strategies to help control your bipolar symptoms.
Hobbies: Immersing yourself fully in creative diversions like drawing, painting, photography, poetry, singing, playing an instrument, dancing, and baking will distance you from your condition. Taking a mental break from your problems to focus on improving new skills is therapeutic and cathartic while boosting self-esteem. Psychotherapist Yoon Im Kane finds that bipolar patients have creative personalities and ideas, separate from the disorder (see video below). Having mediums to express your intense emotions in healthy ways is important. When you pursue positive outlets for your creative energies, your disorder’s destructive options become less seductive.
Nutrition: Your diet can alter your mood because it fuels bodily functions including neurotransmitter production. To feel better, eat a nutrient-dense balanced diet with colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and nuts. Avoid processed, sugary, and fatty foods. Consume caffeine and alcohol in moderation.
Exercise: Physical activities that get you to leave home and pump your blood can be mood boosters. During manic phases, working out is a positive way to burn off excess vitality. If you’re down, it can rev up your energy. When you’re anxious, you can focus on something positive. Establish a routine to exercise each day. Or walk outdoors whenever a certain mood arises. Yoga, water aerobics, and kickboxing classes provide social interaction benefits. The support and encouragement of others may lead to friendships, mutual sharing, and increased self-esteem.
Sleep: A regular sleep routine can be vital to maintaining mental stability. Too few or too many hours can cause or indicate a mood swing in either direction. If lights and sounds are problematic, use blackout curtains or a sleep mask, earplugs, and a fan for white noise.