Given all the recent awful events that have happened in the world, as well as the everyday stresses people have to cope with, the question must be asked: why are some people so damn happy?!
Recent research has discovered why this is the case: human memory is biased toward happiness (Walker and colleagues, 2005). Our memory system treats pleasant emotions differently from their unpleasant counterparts. Pleasant emotions seem to fade more slowly from our memory than unpleasant ones, perhaps because we tend to minimize the impact of negative events more than we do for positive events.
However, this fading effect does not happen for everyone. Mild depression can disrupt this bias for good over bad, making unpleasant and pleasant emotions fade more evenly.
Depression, which may be experienced by up to one in four females and one in six males at some point in their lifetime, is not simply normal sadness, being moody or just feeling low. It is a serious illness that causes changes in not only the emotions of a person, but also his or her behaviours, thoughts, and physical wellbeing.
When people feel depressed they tend to experience a decrease in their energy levels. This often means decreased activity and withdrawal. Also on this slippery slope is decreased satisfaction and pleasure in everyday things, which results in a tendency to focus more on the negative aspects of their life, minimizing the positive ones. People who feel depressed frequently also have thoughts about being worthless and useless, and anticipate their future in a negative light. Thinking this way tends to make people feel more depressed, thus creating a vicious cycle of depression that can seem to be difficult to escape.
What can you do if you feel depressed? A common response that people give is to increase your energy levels – but how do you do that? Increasing energy in isolation is not an easy task, but rather may be a consequence of gradually engaging in more activities. Just as with starting at a gym, at first you may not feel like engaging in the activities, but the more you do them, the more you feel like doing them. Set small goals for increasing your involvement in different areas of your life, including socialising, exercising, and engaging in pleasant activities, as well as those that give you a sense of achievement.
Given the role of your thinking style in maintaining depression, it is also worthwhile devoting effort to thinking in a more positive, or helpful, manner. Perhaps try thinking of a couple of positive things whenever you find yourself thinking of something negative. A clinical psychologist may also be able to help you change your thinking styles from unhelpful to helpful.
By devoting time and effort to developing these habits you may improve not only how you feel emotionally, but also your physical health. If you would like assistance to improve your mood, please do not hesitate to contact us on 1800 768 411.
Improve your mental health & well-being by making an appointment with our experienced clinical psychologists.
Suite 6, Level 9, 122 Arthur St,
North Sydney NSW
Suite 2B, Level 1, 115 Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge NSW
1800 768 411
M - F : 10 am - 6pm
This website and the services that we provide are not a crisis service. Although we aim to see people within a week of their first contact, if you need immediate urgent assistance please call Lifeline (ph. 131 114) or contact your local hospital or community mental health centre