Common Mental Health Habit Linked to Depression

depressionResearch has found that those who suffer from depression display a common, yet self-sabotaging, mind habit that prevents them from feeling and enjoying positive emotions that are naturally available throughout the day.[1]

The study, conducted by KU Leuven, suggests that those with depression experience normal potential for positive emotions; however, they had a habit of suppressing those emotions.1 Researchers polled 200 women during and after their pregnancies.1 Surveys determined whether or not mothers were currently experiencing depressive symptoms, as well as their response to both positive and negative emotions.1 It was found that eight percent of participants experienced symptoms of depression, and the suppression of positive emotions was a significant predictor of its occurrence.1

Therefore, while many characterize depression as an abundance of negative feelings, it is also important to note the lack of positivity.1 In fact, this may just be more important.1 People who are prone to depression have a habit of suppressing positive emotions, increasing the impact of the negative emotions.1

In contrast, researchers found that a tendency to dwell on negative emotions did not contribute to the development of depression.1 Therefore, suppressing positive feelings may actually be the critical cause.1 If  the positive is suppressed, only the negative remains.1

However, why would anyone suppress positive emotions?1 This is a phenomenon called happiness anxiety.1 When happiness is an unfamiliar feeling, you aren’t likely to trust it.1 Therefore, when you begin to feel positive emotions, you tend to dismiss them in favor of a more familiar, and negative, state.1 The conscious mind considers venturing out of negative territory, but decides it is too dangerous an act.1 Therefore, a person learns to tolerate the negativity, creating self-sabotage.1 Tolerating happiness and not rejecting it can help a person realize that positive emotions are good feelings to have.1

[1] Bundrant, M. (2014). Common, Baffling Mental Habit Linked to Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 8, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2014/05/common-baffling-mental-habit-linked-to-depression/

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