Happiness is something that is desired by all. But, for some people that happiness becomes very difficult to achieve. No matter how happy they would like to feel, they are, most of the times, overpowered by the emotion of sadness.
For some people, sadness may occur without any reason. They are sad for no reason at all. This is because their brain and neural circuitry is developed in such a way that most of the times they are sad. Their brain is developed in such a way right from birth or very nearly from birth. Thus, in a way, it can be said that they are born like this. They are sad, because this is the way they are.
The developments of brain imaging techniques in studying the brain have helped a lot in understanding such behaviour. Recent studies have found that sadness is associated with reciprocal increases in activation of limbic areas (brain areas responsible for emotions) and decreases in activation of frontal cortical areas (brain areas responsible for many cognitive and motor abilities). People who are melancholic have been found to have relatively greater levels of brain activity in their right frontal lobe (the front-right side of the brain). They experience negativity and sour moods. They are also easily fazed by the difficulties of life.
Research shows that the brains of depressed individuals look different from those who are not depressed. (Depression is not exactly sadness, but sadness is one of the major symptoms of depression. There are many other things related to depression).
People with depression seem to have brain abnormalities. Depressed people have a reduced volume in the frontal lobe (front side of the brain), the hippocampus, and the basal ganglia, all of which are brain regions that are involved in mood regulation. Research also shows that people who are depressed have lower levels of brain activity in the left frontal lobe (the front-left side of the brain) and higher on the right frontal lobe (the front-right side of the brain) compared to those who are not depressed.
Depression is also caused by a number of hormonal imbalances as well as imbalances in the level of some neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that the brain cells use to communicate). Studies indicate that depression is due to a malfunction of the hypothalamus, a part in the brain known to regulate mood. The hypothalamus produces many hormones. A malfunction in the hypothalamus causes an abnormality in the production of those hormones, which leads to a person being depressed.
Depressed people often have an abnormally low thyroid hormone levels. They also have enlarged pituitary and adrenal glands. Depressed people also have abnormalities in the neurons of the hypothalamus. Depression is also caused by low levels of the neurotransmitters, known as norepinephrine and serotonin, in the brain.
Apart from that, depression is also known to be genetic. People who have a family history of depression have a higher risk to be depressed compared to those individuals who do not.
Although some individuals develop these brain abnormalities right from birth or very nearly from birth, it does not necessarily mean that it will remain the same throughout life. A proper upbringing, socialization, and the right kind of environment may lead to changes within the patterns of the brain and make such individuals like any other person.
The sub-field of neuroscience known as neuroplasticity suggests that the brain can reorganize itself by forming new neural networks and thus changing the brain structure and neural circuitry in response to new situations and changes in the environment. The new, emerging area of social-neuroscience suggests that proper interactions and healthy and satisfying relationships help in changing the whole brain structure, which leads the person to develop a positive attitude towards life.
However, this is not as simple as it may sound. People born with such brain abnormalities are highly vulnerable to stress and are extremely sensitive to even the slightest of disturbing situations. They get easily hurt and perturbed. Due to their high level of sensitivity, they get easily upset and are often misunderstood by others. This also, many a times, makes them unable to enjoy social situations as they would have really liked to do so. All this makes them to struggle really hard to be happy. Because of this, they have to put in a lot of effort to gain happiness. This also leads such people to deal with many other mental health problems.
Such people obviously require medication, psychotherapy, and social-skills training. But, this comes at a much later stage. Before that they need a lot of social and emotional support from friends and family. They need to be handled with a lot of patience and care.
Nobody in this world wants to be sad. Everybody wants to lead a happy and highly satisfying life. But, for some people this becomes very difficult. Happiness, for them, becomes almost unattainable. This is because some people are just born to be sad.