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How Helping Others Increases Happiness and Decreases Post Injury Depression

Clinical depression reportedly affects 1 in 10 Americans, and almost everybody experiences grief and sadness at some point in their lives.  Furthermore, the incidence of depression is higher in some states, including West Virginia.


As a West Virginia personal injury lawyer, I see first hand that depression can be aggravated or brought on by injuries.  There’s also a direct link between some kinds of brain injury and depression. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that a large number of traumatic brain injury patients experience significant episodes of depression.

We have seen this first hand with war veterans who returned from conflicts in the Middle East. Traumatic Brain Injury caused by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) has been labeled the “signature injury” of the Iraq war.

Giving our way out of depression

Research shows that one of the most effective actions to combat depression is to help others.  “There’s no shortage of research showing that people who give time, money, or support to others are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives—and less likely to be depressed. Could helping others be the key to weathering the inevitable storms of life?” asked author Lisa Farino.

The article feel-good research carried out by Carolyn Schwartz, a research professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Schwartz may have stumbled on her finding. She originally wanted to find out if receiving monthly peer-support phone calls from fellow multiple sclerosis sufferers would help others with the disease. The article states as time went on, a “surprising trend emerged.”

“While those receiving support appeared to gain some mild benefit, the real beneficiaries were those lending a supportive ear. In fact, those who offered support experienced dramatic improvements in their quality of life—several times more so than those they were helping.”

The feel-good phenomenon to alleviate depression was in line with research carried out back in the early 1930s. Paul Wink and Michele Dillon collected data every decade on a group of people living in San Francisco. They found those who gave to others from the time when they were adolescents onwards, were considerably less likely to become depressed, even as they got older.

There is research that suggests a biochemical explanation for the studies. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, monitored the brains of the sample group as its members made decisions about donating a portion of their research payment to charitable organizations.

“When participants chose to donate money, the brain’s mesolimbic system was activated, the same part of the brain that’s activated in response to monetary rewards, sex, and other positive stimuli,” stated the MSN article.

There are other ways to alleviate the symptoms of depression including cultivating a close group of friends and exercising. See this guide to dealing with depression.  Taking legal action against a party who has caused your accident, can take some of the financial burden off your shoulders, which is a major cause of stress and anxiety.

Talk to a Charleston, West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured by someone else’s carelessness, whether it be in a hospital, a car accident, work accident, or slip and fall, speaking with an experienced West Virginia injury lawyer can help you identify your options and alleviate much of your stress.  At West Law Firm, we invite you to call us for a free consultation.  Our toll free number is 1-877-943-9378.  We are located at 107 Hale Street, Suite 321, in Charleston, West Virginia and serve clients who have been injured anywhere in the state.
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