Charles S. Carver

Edge, M. D., Miller, C. J., Muhtadie, L., Johnson, S. L., Carver, C. S., Marquinez, N., & Gotlib, I. H. (2013). People with bipolar I disorder report avoiding rewarding activities and dampening positive emotion. Journal of Affective Disorders, 146, 407-413. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.07.027

Background: Researchers have linked bipolar disorder to elevations in reward sensitivity and positive affect. Little is known, however, about how people with bipolar disorder respond to rewards and positive affect and how these tendencies relate to functioning or quality of life.

Methods: Persons diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and matched controls completed the Response to Positive Affect (RPA) measure and the Brief Quality of Life in Bipolar Disorder scale. Bipolar participants also completed the Reward Responses Inventory, which we designed to assess the extent to which participants avoid rewarding activities to prevent mania. A subsample of participants with bipolar disorder completed a positive mood induction procedure to examine the validity of the Response to Positive Affect scale.

Results: The majority of bipolar participants reported avoiding at least one rewarding activity as a means of preventing mania. In addition, people with bipolar I disorder reported more dampening responses to positive affect than did control participants. Dampening positive emotions was related to lower quality of life.

Limitations: This study does not address whether responses to affect and reward are related to the longitudinal course of symptoms.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that people with bipolar I disorder seem to be aware of the potential of goal achievements to trigger mania, and many people with bipolar disorder seem to take steps to avoid positive emotion and reward.

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