Optimism and Psychological Health

Optimism and Health
I have battled depression since high school, with feelings that have ranged from feeling a little down to being suicidal.   Those who were aware of my condition tried to help by telling me to ‘think happy thoughts’.   Does that really work, though?   Can simply thinking happy thoughts have a positive effect on one’s psychological health and aid the treatment of depression?   According to some researchers, it can.
70% of reported cases of depression do not receive adequate levels of treatment, if treated at all.   Treatment for depression can become costly, ranging from $200 for three therapy sessions to over $1,200 for the American Psychological Association’s recommendation of 10 treatment sessions plus medications (Layous, Chancellor, Lyubomirsky, Wang,   & Doraiswamy, 2011).   The research suggests that by using Positive Activity Intervention (PAI), depressed patients can move past just not being depressed to actually flourishing.   Activities utilized include writing letters of gratitude, counting blessings, practicing optimism, performing acts of kindness, meditating on positive feelings toward others, and using one’s signature strengths.   Because these treatments are self-administered they are more cost-effective, convenient and may prevent relapse due to depression triggers.  
Positive emotions and optimism have been proven to increase job performance, creativity, marital satisfaction, social relationships and physical health (Layous et al., 2011, p. 677).   For those battling depression, positive emotions have shown to quicken recovery from “recovery from the cardiovascular effects of negative emotions, improve broadminded coping skills, and buffer against relapses” (Layous et al., 2011, p. 677).   Positive feelings have also been shown to expand one’s thinking and attention.   The optimistic person is more likely to be open to new experiences and explore new activities.   This positivity may also lead to establishing longer-lasting...