Some people seem to always be in happy moods. But, exactly what is happiness? What encompasses a good mood? Is this disposition genetic or dependent on specific neurotransmitters in the brain? Is there a blah, unhappiness gene distributed to a select population?
Scientists are searching for answers to these questions which means they still do not know what specially causes depression, or for that matter—happiness. Previously called Melancholia, depression has been recognized as a common condition for more than three thousand years. Some experts think depression is the result of learned experiences. Others say it’s all about brain chemistry. And then there are those who believe it’s in the genes.
Everyone knows what depression feels like because all of us at one time have experienced its character traits of hopelessness, helplessness, sleep disturbances, eating changes, consuming sadness, and an inability to function. These episodes, typically, are not chronic, only last a day or two; and usually result from life events. Most of us are able to adjust to the changes in life that are uninvited and demanding. We may pout for a time, rebel at reality, express our frustration, but then accept “what is” and move on to tomorrow.
Just like the common cold, the symptoms of depression are generally the same for everyone, but the same can’t be said about happiness. Scientists know more about the state of depression than they do about the state of joy. Taking into consideration that happiness is the most important goal in the lives of people, experts can’t even agree on an explanation for it. What is happiness? Is it being in a good mood? Is it having fun? Is it securing the approval of other people? Lots of money? No worries? What is happiness to you? Americans might say that happiness is a consistent state of well-being, void of stress, worry, frustration, and disappointment.
The full extent of depression is unknown because the menacing stigma towards mental health remains in our culture. As a result of ignorant people that still judge mental conditions as the equivalent of insanity, many people do not seek treatment for depression. They suffer quietly because of the perceived rejection they would otherwise experience if more folks knew their struggles. This accounts for the strong isolation that depressed individuals experience. Our culture still believes on some level that we shouldn’t need help or support for the problems or events that pre-empt our plans and land us in despair. There’s still the idea that it’s a weakness to seek counsel or take medication for mental conditions. On the contrary, it takes strength and wisdom to seek help, and I respect those individuals who do so.
Think about it.
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