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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Meaningful Activities Protect the Brain From Depression

"Aristotle famously said there were two basic types of joy: hedonia, or that keg-standing, Netflix binge-watching, Nutella-from-the-jar selfish kind of pleasure, and eudaimonia, or the pleasure that comes from helping others, doing meaningful work, and otherwise leading a life well-lived... Recent psychological research has suggested that this second category is more likely to produce a lasting increase in happiness."
A new study of adolescents found that those who derive joy from selfless deeds were less likely to be depressed over time.

Depressive symptoms declined among teens who made the selfless decision (left), but they rose in teens who made selfish decision (right). (PNAS)

It turned out the teens who had the greatest brain response to the generous, family-donation financial decision had the greatest declines in depressive symptoms over time. And those who got a boost from the risk-taking game were more likely to have an increase in depression. The types of rewards the teens responded to, it seems, changed their behavior in ways that altered their overall well-being.

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