The definition of happiness is “a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions”. But what determines happiness? Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are all in harmony.” It seems simple enough, right?
There are many forms of mental illnesses, but one of the most common, is clinical depression.
Depression is a disorder of the brain, with causes that include genetic, biological, environments, and psychological factors. It can occur at any age, but often begins in teens and young adults and is much more common in women.
Some common signs of depression:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Inability to perform daily tasks
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- An extreme feeling of tiredness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is a serious medical illness, not just a “phase”. It’s not feeling sad or “blue” for a few days. If you are one of the more than 19 million teens and adults in the United States diagnosed with depression, you’ve experienced how symptoms of depression interfere with everyday life. The human mind has unimaginable power over our emotions and actions. Despite our best efforts, symptoms of depression don’t simply go away. For a while it may be possible to “hide or mask them”, but they are always there. And when they surface, happiness can seem like a mirage or unattainable goal.
If you or someone you know is displaying/experiencing one or more of these warning signs, it’s important to seek treatment. There are many options available, including antidepressants, talk therapy (counseling), or both. Receiving a diagnosis of depression can be overwhelming and you may be unsure which way to turn. It’s important to remember you are not alone. Even when it all seems too much, there is someone out there to offer advice, support, or to simply listen. You just have to be willing to reach out for help.