(HealthDay News) — For individuals with schizophrenia, happiness is associated with higher mental health-related quality of life and positive psychosocial factors, according to a study published online August 18 in Schizophrenia Research.

Barton W. Palmer, PhD, from the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues investigated happiness among 72 outpatients with non-remitted chronic schizophrenia (mean duration, 24.4 years) and 64 healthy comparison subjects.

The researchers found that individuals with schizophrenia manifested a mild to moderate level of psychopathology, despite continued treatment with antipsychotic medications. Although there was considerable heterogeneity in the schizophrenia group, individuals with schizophrenia reported lower mean levels of happiness than healthy subjects. For individuals with schizophrenia, there was a significant correlation between levels of happiness and higher mental health-related quality of life, and with several positive psychosocial factors (lower perceived stress and higher levels of resilience, optimism, and personal mastery). The happiness level was not associated with sociodemographics, illness duration, severity of positive or negative symptoms, physical function, medical comorbidity, or cognitive functioning. The pattern of correlations of happiness with other variables was similar for healthy controls, although there was no association with resilience.

“Although happiness may be harder to achieve in the context of a serious mental illness, it nonetheless appears to be a viable treatment goal in schizophrenia,” the authors write. “Psychotherapies targeting positive coping factors such as resilience, optimism, and personal mastery warrant further investigation.”

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