Depressed? Science Tells You… Whatever.

Posted by Jessica

When you’re underemployed, it’s easy for life to get you down.  That’s a given.

What remains unclear is how your body is affected by those blues.  Is it healthy?  Is it bad?  Does it place too much stress on the body?

Luckily we have good old science to help us out.

This week’s New York Times Magazine section features an article by author, neuroscience enthusiast, and certifiably cool guy Jonah Lehrer about the bright side of depression.  The hypothesis of his article is that depression could potentionally have a biological purporse.  Just as the body breaks into a fever to help fight an infection, a person might become down in the dumps in order to produce some sort of neurological benefit.  For example, the article implies that depressed people can “think better” and are better able to express themselves creatively.

Kind of interesting, right?  Well before you get too comfortable with this idea, let’s go to another article.

Last week, the Daily News ran a story about the supposed effect of happiness on human heart health.  The researchers cited in the article implied that when people are happy they have less chance of suffering a heart attack.  Furthermore, the scientists asserted that the risk of heart attack in their subjects decreased not only when said subjects were genuinely happy, but also even if they’re just faking it.

So while in the first article, a person might be able to embrace their depression to possibly produce some positive results, in the second article it is recommended that when we are feeling sad, we should push past those emotions and pretend like everything is okay.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and make the following conclusion: if you ask the right scientists, you can find almost any answer you want to hear.

I really don’t know which way to turn here.  All I know is that the only thing that was truly able to cheer me up this week was pictures of puppies (and video.)

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