11 thoughts on “Common, Baffling Mental Habit Linked to Depression

  • May 6, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Probably one of the more bizarre theories of depression I’ve heard, and while I imagine it applies to some people, I don’t think it can apply to everyone with depression. What about those of us who start with depression in adulthood? Did we suddenly develop a habit of suppressing positive emotions after being perfeclty able to experience those emotions throughout childhood, adolescence, and all of our pre-depression adult lives?

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  • May 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    A lot of times I would just disappear into my own world where I felt happy and it lasts maybe a day or less before someone snaps on me for no reason. if I’m more awake, half miserable, and in-tune with the a–holes around me they seem to accept me and be nicer.

    really it didn’t take too many times of feeling attacked before i realized i have to stop spacing out and being happy, and developed the belief that things that make me happy tend to piss my coworkers off or make me look like a target.

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    • May 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Weiss, I have learned the same thing in life and therapy. In my case it applies to family as well as co-workers. Its good to hear some else has had the same life experience.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 2:52 am

    It’s an interesting theory, but again this is a study about post-partum women. I take medication for depression and have for a very long time, but have a capacity to always appreciate beauty, be it visual outside myself, or inside thoughts. Most days maybe 1 or 2 social interactions will be good and positive, the others justifiably negative. As far as suppressing positive emotions, no, I don’t see that as a causal factor in depression….we have our highs and lows like anyone. I’m free of me and I’m free of you, is how I like to keep my reactions to negative people and their oppressive personalities. The expanded study would be interesting in male and female adults, because pregnant women and/or post-partum women have fluctuating hormones anyway. When I feel physically good and active, of course the mood is higher.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 4:14 am

    I’ve seen this set of actions in others and I believe it’s played out in my own life. I’ve had many forms of the, “why aren’t you doing what makes you happy?” question poised by bewildered well-wishers throughout my life and until recently have not had the skills or insight to answer.
    The refusal to choose happiness is a bizarre presentation.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Happiness not a choice, unfortunately (: All the wishing, appreciation and exercise in the world can’t dig me outa this. Antidepressants stabilize to tolerable, but don’t fix it …hoping someday some cure. Bad study.

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  • May 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I’m not sure why there seems to be a need to blame ‘bad parents’ in the depression issue, especially since the study related to post-partum women, where presumably their parents would not factor into any part of the equation. I think suppressing positive thoughts and feelings is primarily a defense mechanism many depressed people have learned to use in order to not get their hopes up, as they know from experience the depression is likely to return. Or, as my daughter, who has depression put it, “Sometimes, even when I AM happy, with friends, having fun, I suddenly feel like crying and I have no idea why. I don’t want to bring everyone down, which makes me more anxious, and I hate it.” This has nothing to do with my parenting, and I’m not saying that as a defense mechanism. Her depression came on at age 13, right as adolescence hit. It was stunning. There is no doubt in my mind that it was triggered by all the hormonal changes she was going through, and I would bet a great deal that it’s a similar dynamic with post-partum mothers, as the hormonal changes that occurred during pregnancy recede and the body goes through a significant shift. I really don’t know why more people and researchers aren’t curious about the hormone/depression link, which is glaringly obvious.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I became leery of the whole tenor of the article almost as soon as I started to read, and then I was unpleasantly struck by this:

    “…In a surprising contrast, researchers found that a tendency to dwell on negative feelings did not contribute to the development of the depression. In other words, suppressing positive feelings may be the critical, causal element.”

    Not having seen the research, I can’t say if this is a conclusion reached by the team, or just the blogger indulging in a careless moment. Either way, a reminder may be timely:

    Correlation does not imply causation.

    Depression is a mental illness. It may be transient, as with postpartum depression and hormonal/developmental flux in adolescence, or lifelong. Persistent “negative” emotional states like sadness or unresponsive indifference, along with the habits of mind and behavior that they tend to engender, are not the illness. They are symptoms of the illness.

    In other words, the illness can’t be cured by trying to change the habits or suppressing the emotions. The premise that it can is what fuels the “blame the victim” mindset that all too often surrounds clinical depression sufferers on every side, and I have no doubt that the resulting sense of isolation and betrayal by people who supposedly care for us is what eventually drives many of us to despair and the desperate acts that may result.

    While gently keeping positive habits of mind and behavior in view without setting or implying unsupportive expectations seems to me part a good way to “be there” for a depressed person, fully accepting them when they just can’t do it is at least equally important.

    And for that to be possible, full recognition that they can’t cure themselves by changing the way they think is absolutely paramount.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I was a positive person until I started living with a guy who constantly criticized me. If I were happy and showing it, he would do something or say something that would bring me down. 10 years later I was diagnosed with severe recurring depression. I know how to be happy. I keep a positive attitude all the time. But when you have someone watching you and “shooting you down” when you are feeling good, it ruins it. My doctor said that my brain has built stronger neuro pathways to the part of my brain that feels depression, because I am always being put in negative states of mind. So it isn’t always the person’s fault, sometimes someone else can create it.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    This article rings totally true for me. I’ve lived with depression for decades and am pretty self-aware about it, and I would say that for a long time happiness felt uncomfortable, like a foreign territory. It was safer to stay in the familiar territory of depression because I knew at least how to deal with that. Please keep in mind that there were not conscious decisions — nobody chooses to be depressed. I was able to get some distance through therapy, medication, and meditation, and to start recognizing the negative self-talk that always dismissed happiness as not attainable. It’s nonsense, but you don’t recognize that when you are depressed.

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  • May 9, 2014 at 8:38 am

    This study ‘suggests’. While this may happen to some people with depression I don’t think a blanket statement that all people with depression experience this. I’ve had depression all my teen/adult life and during the really bad times happy thoughts just don’t pop up. Those I know with depression agree. It’s not depression because you suppress happy thoughts, it’s depression because you don’t have happy thoughts.

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