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Poor mental health is a state of psychological distress that is influenced by lifestyle factors such as sleep, diet, and physical activity. Compulsivity is a transdiagnostic phenotype cutting across a range of mental illnesses including obsessive–compulsive disorder, substance-related and addictive disorders, and is also influenced by lifestyle. Yet, how lifestyle relates to compulsivity is presently unknown, but important to understand to gain insights into individual differences in mental health. We assessed (a) the relationships between compulsivity and diet quality, sleep quality, and physical activity, and (b) whether psychological distress statistically contributes to these relationships.
We collected harmonized data on compulsivity, psychological distress, and lifestyle from two independent samples (Australian n = 880 and US n = 829). We used mediation analyses to investigate bidirectional relationships between compulsivity and lifestyle factors, and the role of psychological distress.
Higher compulsivity was significantly related to poorer diet and sleep. Psychological distress statistically mediated the relationship between poorer sleep quality and higher compulsivity, and partially statistically mediated the relationship between poorer diet and higher compulsivity.
Lifestyle interventions in compulsivity may target psychological distress in the first instance, followed by sleep and diet quality. As psychological distress links aspects of lifestyle and compulsivity, focusing on mitigating and managing distress may offer a useful therapeutic approach to improve physical and mental health. Future research may focus on the specific sleep and diet patterns which may alter compulsivity over time to inform lifestyle targets for prevention and treatment of functionally impairing compulsive behaviors.
We assessed self-reported drives for alcohol use and their impact on clinical features of alcohol use disorder (AUD) patients. Our prediction was that, in contrast to “affectively” (reward or fear) driven drinking, “habitual” drinking would be associated with worse clinical features in relation to alcohol use and higher occurrence of associated psychiatric symptoms.
Fifty-eight Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) alcohol abuse patients were assessed with a comprehensive battery of reward- and fear-based behavioral tendencies. An 18-item self-report instrument (the Habit, Reward and Fear Scale; HRFS) was employed to quantify affective (fear or reward) and non-affective (habitual) motivations for alcohol use. To characterize clinical and demographic measures associated with habit, reward, and fear, we conducted a partial least squares analysis.
Habitual alcohol use was significantly associated with the severity of alcohol dependence reflected across a range of domains and with lower number of detoxifications across multiple settings. In contrast, reward-driven alcohol use was associated with a single domain of alcohol dependence, reward-related behavioral tendencies, and lower number of detoxifications.
These results seem to be consistent with a shift from goal-directed to habit-driven alcohol use with severity and progression of addiction, complementing preclinical work and informing biological models of addiction. Both reward-related and habit-driven alcohol use were associated with lower number of detoxifications, perhaps stemming from more benign course for the reward-related and lack of treatment engagement for the habit-related alcohol abuse group. Future work should further explore the role of habit in this and other addictive disorders, and in obsessive-compulsive related disorders.
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