Researchers have identified the reasons as to why the brain returns to a stable resting point following the occurrences of euphoria and depression.
"The overwhelming view within psychiatry and psychology is that is due to genetic factors," says Virginia Commonwealth University psychiatrist Kenneth S. Kendler.
"Yet we know that extreme environmental adversities, such as abuse in childhood or wartime trauma, have a long-term impact on people."
Kendler had a hunch that environmental experiences also influence the set points for anxiety and depression.
His new study concludes that they do.
Kendler and an international roster of collaborators found that life experiences play a central role in establishing the set points for anxiety and depression, perhaps even more than genes do.
The study has implications beyond anxiety and depression, says Kendler.
"Environmental experiences have a memory and stay with us. What governs the emotional set point of adults is a mixture of genetic factors and the total aggregate of environmental experiences."
The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.