Positive emotions like joy and compassion are good for your mental and physical health, unless you are a bipolar disorder patient, according to a psychologist.
Psychologist June Gruber of Yale University says positive emotions may become negative in people with bipolar disorder.
One of the characteristics of bipolar disorder is the extreme periods of positive mood, or mania.
People in the grip of mania also have increased energy, sleep less, and experience extreme self-confidence.
But during these times of mania, people with bipolar disorder often take dangerous risks, run up their credit card debt, and wreak havoc in marriages.
Gruber said that people with bipolar disorder set very high, ambitious goals, are sensitive to rewards, and in periods of mania, some believe they have special powers.
"The fact that positive emotion has gone awry is something unique about bipolar disorder, as almost all other emotional disorders are characterized by difficulties in negative emotions" she said.
She points out that positive emotions are problematic for people with bipolar disorder even when they're not experiencing mania.
"In our work, those with bipolar disorder continue to report greater positive emotions whether it's a positive film, very sad film clip of a child crying over his father's death, and even disgusting films involving someone digging through feces" Gruber said.
"Although positive emotions are generally good for us, when they take extreme forms or when they're experienced in the wrong context, the benefits of positive emotion begin to unravel," she noted.
She added that people who have a lot of positive emotions, even at inappropriate times, might be at risk of bipolar disorder.
The study will be published in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.