Psychological Self-Help

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antidepressant, such as Paxil, to normal people, who are not
depressed, does not increase their happiness (it did reportedly reduce
their anger slightly and increase their sociability). In addition, it is
common knowledge that certain illegal drugs, such as Cocaine and
Ecstasy, quickly produce euphoria (these drugs, like Paxil, presumably
do this by increasing serotonin and dopamine), but the positive
emotions soon fade and then depression and/or apathy rapidly
If you have a cheery disposition, count your blessings. Let’s look
more closely at our limited knowledge about happiness. 
There is a long-running controversy about the cause of depression
(which means no one knows): some say our personal history or
experiences (psychology) cause depression, others say brain chemistry
causes depression. Both psychology and drugs relieve depression in
some cases, so the treatment doesn't clarify the causes. My guess is
that psychological factors play a role in almost all depressions and
physiological (chemical) factors are significant causal factors in some
depressions, especially the very severe cases. 
Like several other human disorders, there is evidence that
unhappiness runs in some families. Studies estimate that 15% to 40%
of the risk of major depression results from genetic factors. Your genes
may have predisposed you to be at a certain point on the happiness-
depression scale, just as other genes may have predisposed you to be
at a certain weight. But, most psychologists believe you can influence
your weight and your mood; genes don't have perfect control. Yet,
David Lykken and Auke Tellegen at the University of Minnesota
suggest that we really don't have much control over happiness,
pointing out that the thrill of a promotion or winning the lottery fades
away in 3 to 6 months and you go back to your set point. Moreover,
some of their studies have reported that happiness does not tend to be
highly related, in our country, to education, income, success, type of
job, or marital status. So, maybe the genes do seriously influence our
happiness, but what are the possibilities of controlling our sadness? 
I don't doubt that genes have some influence over your level of
happiness. But, I also believe (hope?) that ways of seeking joy, being
optimistic, tolerating losses, etc. are learnable skills. Some experts
argue that your happiness is more under your control than your
depression is. Interesting possibility but I don't think we know that
much about mood control yet. In the case of both happiness and
sadness, self-control will take wisdom, planning, and effort. You surely
have to pursue happiness; it takes mindfulness and skills or
What this chapter offers
In this chapter, after briefly discussing happiness, we will first
consider the signs of depression: How do we recognize it? Of course,
each of us feels and acts differently when depressed. There are many
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