Life experiences, mood and well-being

People tend to have a set-point for their mood that they return to after feeling better or worse, it has been observed. New research to be published in Psychological Science - a journal of the Association for Psychological Science - has shown the environment plays a part in where these limits are set for depression and anxiety.

Kenneth Kendler from Virginia Commonwealth University - which enrols more than 32,000 students across the Monroe Park and MCV campuses - questioned why these points remain stable over time and noted: "We know that extreme environmental adversities, such as abuse in childhood or wartime trauma, have a long-term impact on people."

Mr Kendler and colleagues from the institution discovered life experiences can play as crucial a role in setting these boundaries as genes do.

He claimed the investigation therefore shows that people who want to be happy in old age should "live a good life".

Dr Kim Wright, a Chartered Psychologist from the University of Exeter, commented: "The idea that our 'baseline' mood state can be altered by life events has the potential to be a hopeful message. 

"Psychological therapies often focus upon helping people to return to their mood set-point after a period of acute or chronic disturbance, however it would be interesting to know whether psychological therapy might be able to function as the sort of life event that could raise this set-point on an enduring basis."