People pursue relationships, objects, and goals that make them happy. The pursuit of happiness is vital to American culture, so much so that it’s enshrined as an inherent inalienable right along with liberty and life. 

So, in a country that puts happiness on a pedestal, why are so many people depressed? Studies show that there’s an inextricable link between the pursuit of happiness and depression. 

Does Pursuing Happiness Make You Sad?

The more value you give to happiness, the more chances of you getting depressed. This relationship is more robust in English speaking cultures as compared to others. Data shows that this relationship was weak among people with dual citizenships or belonging to other nationalities. 

A girl feeling sad sitting by the window

Why Would It Happen?

Theory # 1

People tend to pay more attention to adverse emotional events. It may be related to emotional regulation strategies that are poorly suited to the culture and environment. Or perhaps it can be connected to how they perceive things that bring them happiness. For instance, in the US, people associate happiness with individual achievements.

Theory # 2

It perhaps may also be related to how highly people prioritize happiness. One must understand that happiness is an emotion, among others. While its normal to feel happy, it’s also normal to feel angry, fearful, lonely, and sad. 

Theory # 3

When people ignore unpleasant emotions, they don’t get processed well and can lead to depression. Thinking that reprioritizing happiness will help you alleviate depression is counter-intuitive. Instead, one must equate happiness with other emotions to lessen the chances of getting depressed.

Disconnecting The Pursuit of Happiness and Depression

You must remember that positive emotions can also have negative results. For instance, if you let optimism take over you, it can lead to risky behavior and unrealistic expectations. While it’s a positive feeling, you must know why you’re feeling it, examine it, and stop it from overriding other emotions.

Learn to accept and manage emotions. It takes patience and time. If you’re struggling with symptoms of depression and having trouble dealing with emotions, therapy, or counseling may help you.

Get Help from a Leading Therapist in Birmingham, AL

David Myers is a Birmingham, Alabama-based psychologist. He specializes in depressionanxiety, and relationship counseling. His practice centers on the mind-body-spirit connection and ensures healing and growth from within, giving you the emotional relief and peace of mind that you’re seeking. 

Schedule an appointment with David Myers today. 

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