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Why can’t I just be happy?

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Hi I am 20 years old and just recently moved to Chile with my mother after the separation with my step dad. I have always suffered from depression and have taken medication for it but it seems to never work. These past few years it seems that I have gotten worse. I am constantly down on myself never thinking I am good enough. I can’t even remember what it feels like to be happy. I get angry over what my mother tells me are small things but I tell her they aren’t small to me. I am always on a rollercoaster of emotions, I can be having a good time and the simplest thing will bring me down and I am upset the rest of the day.

I don’t have a home anymore and am staying with family and they are constantly taking my things and it makes me so angry and I just want to cry. Whenever I try to explain to my mom or anyone how I am feeling I start to cry. I have gotten to a point where I get so angry I don’t even scream anymore I am just silent and cry. I feel like I am filled with all these emotions all the time and I hate that I feel so sad and angry all the time but it seems like I can’t be happy.

It makes me feel like I am a burden on everyone and it would just be better if I was gone. Why am I this way? Why can’t I just be happy?

Why can’t I just be happy?

Answered by on -


I am sorry this has become such a difficult time in your life. Depression is often activated when we feel we cannot control various aspects of our life, and gaining control of the areas we can is typically the key for feeling better.

There are several things we can do to combat depression that I have identified elsewhere. I will encourage you to read through these as a foundation for change.

In a nutshell, some strategies listed in this article include:

“Positive psychology – strategies designed to shift your thoughts and feelings toward a more positive framework. This isn’t a simplistic “think-happy-thoughts” approach, but rather a focused effort at cognitive restructuring of your thought process. The strongest combination to approach depression is therapy combined with an antidepressant. If you do not want to take an antidepressant there are several homeopathic or herbal alternatives that may be helpful. You may want to consider group therapy as a means of supplementing your individual therapy. Group therapy is different in that there is an interactive feature that can’t be duplicated in individual therapy, and it often provides a vehicle for support as you begin to make changes in your life. Your therapist may know someone he or she can refer you to in your area. Meditation – learning how to self-soothe your emotional turmoil is perhaps the most important skill you can learn. Aerobic exercise – the value of exercise in combating depression is very well documented and this is particularly true for any exercise involving aerobic displacement. Review your diet – our emotional life often changes our craving for various foods, which may not have the best impact on our biochemistry.”

The short answer is that coping with a depression is like walking up a down escalator and we must find the tools and the strength to deal with changing our thoughts and attitude as a way of neutralizing and overcoming these feelings. In particular I would encourage the use of the technique called the “Three Blessings” because it can be used as a direct way to start changing your thoughts.

I would encourage you to seek counseling now to develop a support system in your new location. The find help tab may be helpful as international links are included.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

Why can’t I just be happy?

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on September 17, 2010.

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Why can’t I just be happy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Jun 2019 (Originally: 17 Sep 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 1 Jun 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.