Happiness studies may offer relief to people suffering from depression

The story is found in the UPI.com Health News section under the heading Happiness research may help depressed.

First, who is behind this research:

Kristin Layous and Joseph Chancellor, graduate students at University of California, Riverside; Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology and director of the Positive Psychology Laboratory at UC Riverside; and Dr. Lihong Wang and P. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University conducted a review of previous studies of Positive Activity Interventions.

Second, Positive Activity Interventions? What exactly are Positive Activity Interventions?:

Positive Activity Interventions are intentional activities such as performing acts of kindness, practicing optimism and counting one’s blessings taken from decades of research into how happy and unhappy people are different, the researchers say.

Such positive activity interventions can apparently have an uplifting effect on one’s level of overall happiness and contentment.

“Over the last several decades, social psychology studies of flourishing individuals who are happy, optimistic and grateful have produced a lot of new information about the benefits of positive activity interventions on mood and well-being,” Lyubomirsky says in a statement.

It is thought that the 60 % (ha ha ha) of people labeled depressed who don’t respond to pharmacology (no mention is made of their response to sugar pills) might respond better to this PAI form of treatment.

I think this is a very encouraging development as it doesn’t necessarily involve altering a person’s natural chemistry through the intervention of any drug. Unfortunately, as the article explains, psychiatrists don’t tend to peruse the journals of social scientists. This negligence makes it imperative for people outside of the psychiatric field to make these studies known to psychiatrists in the interests of promoting safer, and more effective, health care.

2 Responses

  1. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    For some reason the opening line of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina seemed appropriate here.

    Personally I’m an avid fan of Barbara Ehrenreich’s critique of gooey positive thinking. Happy thoughts can only get you so far, but at least they’re not a dead end like drugs.

    • I’m not a big fan of positivistic psychology either, but when you are dealing with people who accept and adopt the “chronically clinically depressed” label, you have to let your common sense take over when dealing with them. Doing beats lethargy. When you’ve got somebody that is spending all their time avoiding life, ‘positive activity interventions’ make a little bit of sense.

      Now that we’ve got the television advertising Abilify, a neuroleptic (anti-psychotic) drug, for depression that is unresponsive to anti-depressants. Geez, Louise! You can manage your lows indefinitely, and get seriously damaged by your management technique in the process. I’m not in favor of harming people by chemical means.

      There are other answers to life’s calling besides the “chronic” tag, and meaningful activities have got to be one of those other answers. There is altogether too much career depression in the world, and I would like for some of those people, bedded down perpetually for lack of a life, to see that there are other professions for them to pursue.

      The Darwin Awards are given to people whose stupidity has given them a way of opting out of ‘the gene pool’ (i.e. dying). If there were an honorary Darwin Award, I wince to think about the numbers of still living people that might be receiving one.

      BTW, and on the other hand, the Barbara Ehrenreich book (Smile Or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America & The World) you allude to looks like a very good one. We could opt out of “the gene pool” as a species (i.e. go extinct), too. There is much reason for people to work together, and for them not to be deceived by greedy illusion sellers.

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