In Bipolar Disorder, Thoughts Influence Mood Swings

Thoughts influence the mood swings of patients with bipolar disorder.

Thoughts influence the mood swings of patients with bipolar disorder, according to research published on January 12, 2015, in Psychology and Psychotherapy.

Researchers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom recruited 134 students to complete a behaviors checklist that assessed goal-focused “ascent” and “descent” behaviors. Ascent behaviors included taking on more and risk-taking, while descent behaviors included withdrawing from peers and mulling things over.

The checklist was completed alongside additional questionnaires on feelings, response styles to positive and negative mood, mania, depression, and bipolar risk. The researchers believed it was important to assess the validity of the behaviors checklist for these qualities through a correlational analogue study.

Among the students, positive thoughts such as “I will excel in whatever I’m doing” and negative thoughts such as “I’m going to have a breakdown” influenced mood more than neutral thoughts such as “I have a lot on my mind and need to wind down.”

“These appraisals trigger attempts to control or enhance internal states, known as ascent and descent behaviors, which drive mood and activation levels upwards and downwards, respectively,” said corresponding study author Alyson Dodd, PhD, in a press release. “These goal-focused behaviors are ways in which people respond directly to appraisals of their internal states, in order to regulate their mood. However, they are maladaptive coping strategies such that they disrupt effective mood regulation.”

Based on their overall findings, the researchers concluded that negative thoughts and descent behaviors were associated with depression, while thoughts and ascent behaviors predicted bipolar risk. However, they noted that more investigations are required to thoroughly understand the influences thoughts have on mood and mood swings.

“Extreme positive and negative appraisals of internal states, and subsequent behavioral responses (ascent and descent behaviors), are associated with bipolar risk and bipolar mood symptoms in a student sample,” the authors wrote. “These processes are involved with mood dysregulation in clinical populations, as well as bipolar risk in students, with implications for mood management.”