Anne Milligan, LCSW

(It's Not What You Think It Is)
Anne Milligan, LCSW. Copyright, 2009.

One of the most exciting things about living in modern times is the advancement that science has made in understanding human behavior and how the human brain works. As a Counselor/Therapist, I (Anne Milligan) am particularly interested in how this relates to Clinical Depression. Over the years, I have met many people who consider themselves generally happy, but when they peer deper into their lives, they realize that they actually could be a LOT happier! I've also met (as I'm sure you have) many people who just never get past a certain low level of negativity. They seem always to see more of the bad than the good in life. Then there are those who are genuinely happy people, who bounce back easily from setbacks, are curious about things, are always learning something new, are optimistic, and have a strong social network.

Scientific advancement has shown that almost 50% of our general level of happiness comes from our genetics. If you had at least one parent who was Clinically Depressed, you will likely be more prone to a depressive way of thinking. This is called a "happiness set point".

The good news is this:
No matter what your genetics might be, you CAN (with honest work and patience) BE HAPPIER. You can SUSTAIN YOUR HAPPINESS for longer periods of time, you can increase your RESILIENCE after a setback, you can set meaningful life goals for yourself and finish them, and you can more deeply ENGAGE with life rather than walking around watching others live out theirs.

The solution to this happiness factor is not what most people think.

  • Research has shown that people are not necessarily any happier in the first year after winning the lottery, so wealth and excessive shopping are not going to make people happier if they have a low mood set point.
  • The "geographical cure" doesn't work most of the time, even if the person moves to a place that is sunny 360 days a year! 
  • Forcing another person to become your antidepressant does not work either, and is very irritating to the other person and might actually run him/her off.

Research has also shown that the recovery rate for people with Clinical Depression is increased and sustained most often when they undertake a combination of *antidepressant medication and Counseling Therapy specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Changing what your mind does when you are alone and find yourself gravitating toward negative thoughts ("rumination")has an enormous effect on your level of mood. Rumination wastes an amazing amount of time and accomplished absolutely nothing!

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*(The prescription of an antidepressant medication is a judgement call, to be discussed with the professional doctor or therapist).

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