Positive emotions don’t help Asians recover from stress and depression

April 26th, 2011 - 1:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 26 (ANI): Psychotherapies emphasizing positives, which can relieve stress and depression in white populations, may not work for Asians, according to a new study.

Thinking happy thoughts, focusing on the good and downplaying the bad is believed to accelerate recovery from depression, bolster resilience during a crisis and improve overall mental health.

But the University of Washington psychologists revealed that pursuing happiness might not be beneficial for Asians, who make up 60 percent of the world population.

“I worry that if a therapy which relies on positive emotions and thinking is used with Asian patients, it will not be effective and may even make patients feel worse,” said Janxin Leu, UW assistant professor of psychology.

The researchers asked 633 college students - a mix of Asian immigrants, Asian Americans and European Americans - to rate how much stress and depression they felt and how often they’ve been in a sad mood, felt worthless or had sleep or appetite changes.

The participants also rated the intensity of the positive emotions that they felt, including feelings of serenity, joy, confidence and attentiveness.

For European-American participants, there was a strong correlation showing that the more positive emotions they expressed, the less depression or stress they reported.

The correlation was more subtle among Asian-Americans, but for Asians, there was no correlation between positive emotions and depression and stress.

The findings show that Asians interpret and react to positive emotions differently in regards to their mental health.

The study was published online in journal Emotion, March 28. (ANI)

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