Culture

The Unhappiness Epidemic: How America Is Creating A Culture Of Discontentment, Anger, And Anxiety

By Nicole Dominique
·  8 min read
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America is creating a culture of dissatisfaction, and people no longer have the willpower or strength to improve their mental health. We can blame the government all we want – but in the end, we're responsible for our own happiness.

Two years ago, it was estimated that more than 37 million Americans take antidepressants. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise at all if that number has since increased, thanks to previous lockdowns and narrative-induced stress created by mainstream media. Still, America is seen as the “land of opportunity” and "of the free,” despite the population’s crippling depression and social anxiety. So while the U.S. of A. might be doing well in terms of career-related possibilities, we have to admit that our culture is a breeding ground for discontentment. You don't have to be a psychologist to see that a large portion of the population is incredibly dissatisfied, sad, or bitter.

I’m sure you know several people in your life who are always living under stress. Maybe your co-workers or friends are upset about the "current thing." Or maybe you’ve scrolled through endless content of young adults and teenagers showing off their messy, neglected “depression room” on TikTok. Perhaps you’ve seen the viral tweets of individuals talking about their “oppression” and how it’s so-and-so’s fault that they’re in the position that they’re in, and why they can’t get out of it. Whatever the case, we have to admit that tons of people in our country are absolutely miserable and discontented with their lives, and worse, themselves. But why?

The (Addictive) Victim Complex 

Many things can influence a person’s behavior. The media (social media and the news), our friends, family, and the education system are some of the biggest reasons why people behave – and think – the way they do. But the media especially has done a fantastic job at programming individuals into becoming unhappy. Think about it: In modern America, young people will spend hours on platforms like Twitter or Tiktok, and they’ll hear over and over again how they’re oppressed thanks to the patriarchy, the government, a group of people, or whatever else you could think to put the blame on. Repeatedly, “professional victims” are spewing out their thought processes to millions of impressionable Americans who begin to subconsciously take these ideas as their own. And, well, ideas and beliefs are what most people’s personalities are made up of nowadays.

The body can actually get addicted to anger, as it has similar "highs" that trigger dopamine.

In a sense, individuals are getting brainwashed with endless “I’m a victim” content day in and day out. Scientifically speaking, this is a problem. Because repetition creates long-term memory, it’s one of the strongest ways to learn and remember thought patterns and behaviors that are really difficult to break out of. So, here we have millions of people who are essentially getting their minds conditioned to be mad at X or feel powerless because of Y. The daily content of “be upset about this!” trains the mind to constantly search for things to be upset about. It doesn’t help that the body can actually get addicted to anger, since it leads to similar “highs” that trigger the dopamine reward receptors in the brain. Thus, some people never break out of the cycle of being upset, since their reward systems are essentially messed up. 

Lack of Willpower

Do you know how many times I’ve heard people blame their depression and anxiety on genetics because the “experts” said so? Little do they know how incredibly disempowering this limiting belief is. It’s essentially saying, “I have depression and anxiety and I can’t help it. I should just give up, or take antidepressants for the rest of my life.” Meanwhile, there are numerous studies out there that have found antidepressants to have the same effect as placebo pills in 85% of people.

Imbalanced Hormones and Deficiencies

Besides limiting beliefs, inertia can also be caused by an imbalance in hormone levels or nutritional deficiencies – things that can get fixed if given the proper care and attention. Instead of people actually trying their hardest to overcome their setbacks, they usually just accept that they’re powerless. It really doesn't help the fact that we're living in an environment full of hormone disruptors and eating foods that lack nutrients. We really need to pay attention to how our bodies can affect our minds. Time and time again, science has found a link between disorders and nutritional deficiencies.

Time and time again, science has found a link between disorders and nutritional deficiencies.

As for hormones, low-testosterone males, for example, may be prone to having less confidence and willpower. Additionally, estrogen has been linked to depression and other disorders in women. Regardless of the reasons, there are too many people who have decided to give up instead of improving their diet or lifestyle, leading to a feeling of hopelessness that only leads to more depression and anxiety. Poor lifestyle choices, coupled with the inability to let go of the victim complex (instead of taking personal responsibility), perpetually keeps people in a state of unhappiness.

Consumerism and Distractions

American culture is huge on consumerism. We create the longest lines to buy the newest iPhones, or we all flock to the movie theaters to watch the newly released Marvel movie. But entertainment isn't evil or anything. It's just that we've become way too dependent on it, to the point where entertainment and consumption have turned into distractions and addictions. Most people depend on consuming in order to just feel okay now. Movies, shows, TikTok, binge eating, chain-smoking, alcoholism, and even shopping are fast and easy ways to get dopamine hits.

What most people don’t realize is that they’re living in a loop of needing this hit from being addicted – and so they buy and consume repeatedly just to feel “normal” again. But endlessly buying things or binge-watching daily so we can turn off our brains only provides temporary relief. It’s a band-aid for the underlying emotions we haven’t dealt with. It’s a way to stay out of the present moment, to ignore the things about ourselves and life that we’re too scared to face and fix.

Loneliness, Lack of Socialization, and Empathy

Social media, despite its name, has only made more people antisocial. These days, young people are too afraid to even pick up the phone and speak to a stranger. Most people don’t even make eye contact with other humans anymore. The pandemic has done a number on individuals, and not only has it caused polarization due to the politics behind Covid-19, but it’s also had a psychological impact on the population. The lockdown, for example, has caused an increase in depression and anxiety. The mask-wearing and six-feet-apart rules have social consequences, and it's made people meaner to each other.

Social media, despite its name, has only made more people antisocial.

On the other hand, you can have many friends and still feel lonely. This is because people aren’t really connecting anymore. Being authentic and vulnerable is frightening for many of us since it could lead to being ostracized or judged. We were taught to believe that acceptance is necessary for survival, and so we lose our true selves in the process. 

Lack of Presence

Let’s go over the obvious: Most people aren’t really awake or aware. They breeze through life with closed eyes and minds, never even knowing what they really believe in, ignoring the state of the world, or never truly knowing themselves. This is most likely due to the reasons I’ve listed above – they’re all diversions, and they’ve taken the attention away from yourself and this current moment. We’re always worrying about tomorrow or feeling bad about yesterday. There's always something that we can’t control. We forget to breathe, to look around, and recognize that this very moment is all we have. The lack of presence in combination with the lack of confidence and disconnection from oneself all result in frustration.

Not Living in Alignment with Their Passion

Most people feel lost because their entire lives they’ve been shaped into a “somebody” that can fit into society, a “somebody” that would make an efficient worker and well-behaved citizen. Thus, deep down these people face uncertainty because they're not in alignment with their current job or lifestyle. They're not living authentically. It’s akin to being an incredibly talented artist, only to choose an accounting job out of financial “security” or approval from parents. And, as stated previously, many young people have traded authenticity for conformity. They’ve censored their true selves so they don’t face rejection, leading to deep-rooted dissatisfaction.

Closing Thoughts

This article is not saying other countries are better. Unhappy people are everywhere. What this article is focusing on is my personal experience from growing up in America, observing others, and living through the victim mentality and powerless mindset myself. Based on my experiences alone, and from watching how others behave, I believe it’s not too far off to say that America’s way of life is making people unhappy. However, it can be fixed once we assume personal responsibility and find the strength within ourselves to improve our mental health.

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