Happiness Persists Despite Severe Illnesses

Maybe not as happy as a child,
but very often in a good mood
© Hemera

In fact, such patients on the whole may be just as happy as those without major medical conditions. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that ill and disabled people adapt to their condition and show a resilience of spirit that many healthy people can't imagine.

The University of Michigan researchers made their surprising finding by having 49 pairs of dialysis patients and healthy people report their mood every few hours for a week, using a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA).

"The big advantage of using PDAs is that you can get representative snapshots of a person's experience, rather than just relying on their overall impressions of their lives," says lead author Jason Riis, adding that several studies have shown such overall impressions to be biased in a variety of ways. "Our snapshots revealed that the patients were in good moods the vast majority of the time, and that their moods were not substantially worse than those of the healthy people."

"This is further evidence that people adapt emotionally to serious adversity, such as end-stage kidney failure," says senior author Peter Ubel, M.D., U-M professor of internal medicine and psychology.

Interestingly, the patients themselves seemed to underestimate their own adaptation. When asked to imagine the moods they would experience if they had never experienced kidney failure, the patients estimated that they would experience much better moods than those actually experienced by the healthy study participants.

But the evidence from the new study, and from studies before it, suggests that people who have gone through such changes tend to adapt their emotional response to their new life. "People are more resilient than they think they can be, and can get through things that they probably would have never thought they could," says Ubel.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System