Money Doesn’t Equal Happiness, but These 4 Things Help

June 8, 2018

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Magdalena Spariosu, M.D. contributes to topics such as Behavioral Health.

Ramon Solhkhah, M.D. contributes to topics such as Behavioral Health.

Co-Written By Ramon Solhkhah, M.D. and Magdalena Spariosu, M.D.

The world is shocked and saddened to hear of two celebrity suicides that happened within the same week: designer Kate Spade and chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that suicide rates rose steadily over the years (from 1999 to 2016), increasing 25% nationally. In 2016, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides.

Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain seemingly had it all – fame and fortune. We don’t know what ultimately caused them to commit suicide, but we do know that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. The sad reality is that anyone in any walk of life can be impacted by anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and it should be taken very seriously. There’s a lot of help available and several options like talk therapy or medications, and you should speak to your primary care physician or a psychiatrist to learn more.

If you’re feeling the stress of everyday life, there are several things you can do today to focus on health and wellness and increase happiness.

Connect with Others: Several studies have proven that having deep and meaningful relationships contributes to our psychological well-being. Rather than basing relationships on social media interactions, or friendly exchanges, work on cultivating genuine friendships with people you can rely on, turn to in times of need and share life goals with. Join a book club, or a softball league and start increasing your in-person social activity with a focus on making quality friends.

Exercise: Many times when people are feeling down they turn to binge eating, alcohol or cigarettes to make them “feel better,” but research shows that exercising is much more effective at reducing stress and improving mood, and also yields positive long-term effects.

Go Outside: Not only will exercising positively impact your mood, but exercising outdoors has increased benefits. When scientists have compared people who run on treadmills in the gym with people who run in nature, they found that both see a reduction in depression — but it’s higher for the people who run in nature.

Give Back: Many people are familiar with Winston Churchill’s quote, We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Science shows there’s a lot of truth behind that anecdote. There’s compelling data that proves that giving is a strong pathway to personal growth and long-term happiness. Make a donation to an organization you care about, take time to volunteer or simply help out a neighbor or friend. You’ll almost immediately feel personal benefits from these actions.

Once again, with the recent loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain it’s evident mental illness does not discriminate against race, gender, age, socio-economic status, profession and in this case, success and fame. This reinforces the need for suicide prevention to be taken to the next level. Hackensack Meridian Behavioral Health is dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness which will positively impact suicide prevention. We are investigating new ways we can partner with organizations like the Carrier Clinic and educating and growing tomorrow’s mental health providers at the new Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University and through our two new psychiatry residencies. Mental illness affects so many families in our society today, which is why we are constantly striving to prioritize behavioral health services.

If you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness or has suicidal thoughts, all our hospitals offer 24 hour crisis services. Call any of the numbers below for help or dial 911.

Hackensack University Medical Center/Bergen Co. Crisis Hotline: 201-262-HELP
Jersey Shore University Medical Center: 732-776-4555
JFK Medical Center:732-321-7601
Ocean Medical Center: 732-836-4664
Riverview Medical Center: 732-219-5325
Raritan Bay Medical Center – Old Bridge: 732-442-3794
Raritan Bay Medical Center – Perth Amboy: 732-442-3794
Palisades Medical Center: 201-854-6300
Mountainside Medical Center: 973-429-6963
Pascack Valley Medical Center: 201-781-1300
Southern Ocean Medical Center: 609-978-8972
Bayshore Medical Center: 732-219-5325

Dr. Ramon Solhkhah is the professor and founding chairman, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University and chairman, Department of Psychiatry at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Dr. Magdalena Spariosu is the interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.