Encountering sadness in one way or the other, every individual, today, has developed familiarity with it. Sometimes, we succeed in overcoming it, and sometimes, we get gripped in its tentacles. At certain times, it even haunts us, assuming the terrible form of serious depression. Quite ignorant of its severity, we keep on bearing it until we eventually find ourselves afflicted by some ailment. It is then only that we start our irresistible stampede to doctors and hospitals. Sadness, being the root cause of many physical ailments, needs to be nipped in the bud. Moreover, the management of sadness demands special attention because unmanaged sadness leads to clinical depression. Disorders such as depression are spreading like wildfire nowadays.
In addition, the substance abuse as a remedy is menacingly prevalent today. Not only this, the disease of sadness has even reached its critical level, as is vivid from the fact that most of the depression-ridden people often commit suicide. Thus, sadness can prove fatal, creating an environment of grief and remorse.
Mostly people leave it unnoticed and, hence, untreated, considering it to be a common cold of the mind. At certain moments, especially during the winter, when we suffer from the common cold, we don’t usually rush to the clinics or get hospitalized. Likewise, misconceiving sadness as the common cold of mind, people, ignorant of its life-consuming consequences, prefer enduring it silently instead of working it out. An un-nursed sadness or dejection, then, manifests as melancholy, disappointment, self-criticism, guilt, boredom, tiredness or restlessness, lack of interest, and many such feelings. Thus, assuming various forms, it devitalizes us, making us gloomy. All these factors demand the raising of an immediate call for the management of sadness.
Its management, however, requires a deep analysis of its causes. There are various prevalent theories explaining the causes of sadness. Generally, it is said that people become victims of sadness when they fail in their pursuit for achieving happiness. Some say that sadness is the negative end of the mood scale whose positive end is happiness. Some claim that melancholy crops out of the psychological disorders, while others propose that it is the outcome of the malfunctioned brain chemistry, and still others consider the physiological dysfunction responsible for such pitiable state of dejection and despondency. Combinedly, it can be defined as a neuro-physiological state in which psychological factors play a vital role.
Psychological science has verified and established that people tend to be more decisive, dexterous, healthy, optimistic, creative, motivated, social, trusting, loving, and caring when they are happy as compared to when they are in low spirits. Therefore, the mental state determines our behaviour too.
So, is it that we can take charge of our mental state and, hence, our behaviour? Can we glide into the most dynamic, resourceful state at will – an energetic state with our mind alive in which we can be sure of success? For that, we will have to reflect upon the whole biology of the brain. The functions of the brain are performed by the parts of the limbic system capable of detecting the impulses of happiness and sadness. Each of our mental states, happy or sad, involves biological changes in our brain. Further, the type of biological variation in a specific state itself depends on the severity of the state. For instance, depending upon the depression levels of melancholic individuals, there is a variation in the features. In some, there is a decreased activity of a specific neurotransmitter, a molecule carrying a signal between nerve cells, while in others, there is an over-activity of a hormonal system. Thus, depression, otherwise erupting out of non-conduciveness, can be considered as an outcome of an elevated or the reduced levels of selected molecules in the blood.
Geneticists have succeeded in even providing some of the oldest proofs of biological components involved in sadness or the state of dejection. The involvement of biological or genetic components is clarified by the fact that manic depression frequently runs in families, as is vivid from the prevalence of depressive disorders among blood relatives, children, siblings, etc. of patients with severe depression or other mental disorders.
In addition, there are other investigators who are concentrating on neuro-chemical aspects. Much of their work is focused on neurotransmitters. According to them, in many cases, depression is the outcome of disturbances in brain circuits that convey signals through certain neuro-transmitters of the monoamine class. These neuro-transmitters are the biochemicals, all derivatives of amino acids. Monoamines first drew the attention of depression-researchers in the 1950s. Early in that decade, physicians discovered that severe sadness arose in about 15% of patients who were treated for hypertension with the drug Reserpine; for, this agent depletes monoamines. At the same time, physicists discovered that an agent prescribed against tuberculosis elevated mood and spirit in the patients suffering from depression along with tuberculosis. Later on, the experiments revealed that the drug, in fact, inhibited the neuronal breakdown of monoamines by an enzyme, monoamine oxidase. It was then presumed that the agent eased depression by allowing monoamines to avoid degradation and remain active in brain circuits. This insight then led to the declaration and prevalence of monoamine oxidase inhibitor as the first class of antidepressants.
However, the major point of concern is which monoamines are most important in regard to depression. In the 1960s, according to the Catecholamine Hypothesis of mood disorders, norepinephrine was identified as the feel good chemical. It was proposed that depression is the outcome of the deficiency of norepinephrine, also classified as catecholamine, in certain brain circuits. In addition, it was proposed that the overabundance of the same causes mania and, therefore, is again fatal. The proposed relationship between norepinephrine-depletion and depression gained much experimental support; nevertheless, subsequently, it was researched that it does not happen in everyone’s case. The imbalance in norepinephrine is the cause of depression in just a few and not all.
Then in 1990, research was conducted on serotonin. These investigations were based on the therapeutic success of the drug Prozac and related antidepressants capable of manipulating serotonin levels. Findings revealed that defects in serotonin-using circuits dampen norepinephrine signalling, for serotonin-producing neurons project from the raphe nuclei in the brain stem to the diverse regions of the CNS (Central Nervous System), including those regions that secrete or control the release of norepinephrine. Thus, serotonin-depletion might contribute to depression by affecting the neurons releasing other kinds of neurotransmitters. Moreover, serotonin-producing cells enter into many brain regions thought to participate in depressive symptoms; e.g., the amygdala – the area involved in emotions, the hypothalamus – the area involved in appetite, sleep, etc., and the cortical areas that participate in cognition and other higher processes.
Thus, in short, it is the disturbed functioning of the brain circuit that leads to sadness. Our brain is a neurobiological system with the vital role played by the neurotransmitters. There are three chemicals in the brain that act as messengers of brain signals – serotonin, noradrenalin, and dopamine. Serotonin is responsible for making sure that our body’s physiology is set for sleeping; noradrenalin sets our energy levels. Without enough noradrenalin, we feel exhausted and unmotivated. Dopamine propagates and runs the body’s pleasure centre, allowing us to enjoy life. When stress interferes with our dopamine functioning, the pleasure centre becomes inoperative and the normal pleasure-filled activities no longer impart any pleasure or joy.
All these harmful effects and consequences prompt us to look for some solution out of this fatigue. Is there any clinical treatment available for this gloominess? The prevalent systems of medicine are helpless and poorly organised in this regard. In one way or the other, it is our negative thought pattern that is responsible for inflicting melancholy. As per our thought pattern, there are changes in our brain pattern, and it is our brain pattern that determines the type of biochemical reactions taking place in our body. Sadness, being the outcome of the malfunctioned biochemical reactions, is thus indirectly related to our thought pattern. However, our modern medicines fail to infuse the positivity required to overcome melancholy at our thought level.
There has been no such medicine that can alter our thinking strategy. That’s why emphasis has been made to anchor ourselves to spirituality, which can provide a comprehensive toolkit for mastering our mind and, hence, controlling our brain activity. By learning the strategy for mind control, this crippling neurophysiological state called sadness can be altered easily. There are certain neurobiological states that can empower us and the others that can leave us limp. These states can be easily managed like other health problems. One simply needs to change the internal representation from the negative to the positive one, producing more healthy results. Our medical world considers pain as a signal to heal something in the body. Unless you dress a particular wound, the pain will not be relieved. Likewise, sadness, melancholy, or dejection is a correction business. Do not mask it and escape from it; instead, try to find its cause, and heal it right from the root.
The healing strategy for overcoming sadness involves the prime step of getting rid of negative thoughts and tendencies, which demands for an effective strategy that can exercise an alchemical effect on our thought patterns. And this strategy can be none other than the meditation based upon the Light of the Soul. It is only this protocol that exercises a transforming effect on our thoughts by re-channelling them towards Pure Consciousness, the embodiment of positivity, morality, and divinity. However, for the implementation of this strategy in our life pattern, first of all, we need to achieve True Knowledge – Brahm Gyan, by the grace of a Perfect Spiritual Preceptor.
knowledgeable words by His Holiness Shri Ashutsh Maharaj ji