October 27, 2012

An Unsatisfying Level Of Depression

Scientists and researchers are people, too. Just like you and I, these curious and number crunching individuals put their pants on one leg at a time. Though they’re often perceived to be a bit brainier than normal folk, they’re still confronted with the same daily struggles as the rest of the civilized world. Since they are perceived to be so intelligent, it looks poorly on them and those who sign their checks if they aren’t always busy, crunching numbers or publishing new studies or discovering some brand new something.

But life doesn’t always hand us groundbreaking results and statistics every day, and not every university gets to have their own Einstein. No, sometimes these scientists and researchers simply need busy work, something to publish for no other reason than to prove that they still know how to do their jobs. Who are we judge them for it?

Take, for instance, the latest study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in collaboration with the University of Oslo. Apparently, there were several who needed to keep their hands busy the day this study was published.

According to this new study, people who have a serious case of depression are less satisfied with their lives.

Conversely, and this is where it gets real interesting, those who are considered “happy people” are more satisfied with their lives.

“People who are satisfied at any one point in life are often also satisfied at other times in their lives,” reads the study.

“This stability—the dispositional life satisfaction—is often said to reflect an underlying positive mood or a positive disposition.”

Though these scientists and researchers may be looking for ways to avoid the devils playground, they’re definitely thorough, providing statistics to back up their common sense claims.

For instance, according to their tests (yes, they ran tests) 15.8% of the men and 11.1% of the women they tested met the criteria for lifetime major depression. In addition to being depressed, these individuals also reported being less satisfied with their lives.

Or, is it that they were depressed because they were less satisfied with their lives? It’s a vicious cycle, this depression and lack of satisfaction.

So, why are these people depressed and less than satisfied with their lives? According to the research, its all in the genes. Those with cheery dispositions are usually that way because this trait was passed on from their parents. Alternatively, those who were prone to be depressed about their lives picked this up from mom and pop.

To put it in expensive, science-y terms, “The stable tendency to see the bright side of life is associated with lower risk of major depression because some genetic factors influence both conditions,” explains researcher Ragnhild Bang Nes from the Division of Mental Health.

This is all extreme common sense, of course. I’ve never met a single depressed person (I’ve known several) who also claim to be really excited about the way their lives are going and satisfied with their overall existence. Being bummed out about the way your life is going is part of the depressed territory. Likewise, you’ll never meet a bouncy, cheery person who says, with a smile, “I know I’m a radiant beam of irritating sunshine, but I’d be much more satisfied if only I had a touch of the gloomies!”

To wrap up this study, Nes concludes by saying all the little things to make us happy— pictures of puppies, romantic dates with loved ones, the laughter of a child— can only offer small protection against a lifetime of unsatisfactory depression if you carry the gene for it.

So, keep your head up, normal people. Though you may be destined to a frustrating life of dissatisfaction, you can rest easy at night knowing that even brilliant people can come up with dumb studies when they’re bored. And it’s little moments like that which should provide at least momentary happiness.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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