Happiness is not the way out of depression

Manishka Gunasekara
8 min readMay 20, 2020

Being happy will not make you depressed, but feel good factors can sometimes keep you depressed for even longer.

Photo by Yohei Shimomae on Unsplash

(What I’m about to propose is one method that worked, and may I stress on this, for me. It worked for my make-up, character traits and circumstances, so do read this with an open mind)

“Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. — World Health Organization.”

For about seven years of my young adult life, I think it’s safe to say, I was experiencing a stale but severe depression. As a result, I saw everything through this dusty lens. Life sucked.

Triggered by a traumatic experience in my early twenties, I was given a diagnosis called “post-psychotic depression.” It was so pronounced that I would sleep for about fourteen hours for a day, eat whole tubs of ice-cream, gain weight, walk about with a vacant expression — spacing out often; I couldn’t hold a part time job for long — let go because I took too long to peel potatoes. I couldn’t understand what I was taught — mind was fogged up by a pervasive dullness. I was failing at life in every way, no matter how you measured it.

I made the only decision I could make at the time and abandoned my Masters half into the semester to fly back home. I wanted nothing more than my own bed to lie in and thought (mistakenly) that this would bring me some solace and happiness. Little did I realize that happiness was not the antidote, nor the opposite of depression.

“Happiness is…?”

“Happiness is eating ice cream on a hot day.”

Philosophers and social scientists, who pour over a definition of happiness (ironically) agonisingly, may not come up with such a succinctly accurate snap-shot of the concept. Indeed, anyone who has had ice cream on a sweltering hot day will connect with this feeling of a total but temporary satisfaction.

Some might argue that happiness cannot be reduced to a single definition. However vaguely defined and limitedly understood, intuitively everyone knows when they are happy or not. Furthermore, we all know which kind of happiness is deeply rooted and fulfilling and the kind of happiness that is fleeting…