According to the World Health Organization (WHO), from 2008 to 2018, an increase of 18.4% was observed in cases of depression worldwide. Brazil ranks second in cases of depression, with 5.8% of the population, second only to the United States by a small difference.
In addition, Brazilians are the most anxious in the world, with a rate of 9.3%, which represents almost 20 million people. Detail: these figures refer to a period prior to the pandemic.
Coincidence or not, for a few years now, the pressure to be happy all the time has intensified. Every day something very good has to happen to “produce content” for social networks with the pseudo goal of inspiring followers. And when someone fails to make their posts happy for a few days – or, depending on the person, for a few hours – concern for their well-being arises.
I heard a phrase this week that, at first, seemed quite strange, but that makes perfect sense. A Brazilian who went to live in the Netherlands revealed that what she likes most in that country is the lack of this pressure: “Here I can be sad”.
The demand for being happy permanently is so great that the simple fact that we are not laughing for nothing means that there is something wrong with us. Recognizing that you are not as happy as everyone else seems to be has led many people to a depressed state and to develop anxiety. At some point, not being happy all the time became a disease.
Sadness, however, plays an extremely important role in human development. Several studies point out that sadness promotes social interactions, because, in addition to the sad moments that lead us to get closer to family and friends, they also make us empathize with other people who are experiencing moments of sadness. The crying generated by sadness is also beneficial, as it brings tranquility and relaxation and can act as a reset button for a tired and troubled mind.
In addition, sadness makes us move forward, as it exposes a bad situation that needs to be changed, leading us to act to overcome difficult times. Likewise, it is sadness that leads us to self-knowledge, as it leads us to moments of reflection and regret for our own mistakes. Without that, life comes down to superficial comparisons that enhance futility and still promote depression and anxiety. No one is, and should not be, happy all the time. And this is great!