While the rust belt and sunbelt were the geographic definers of their day, in the current era of economic crisis, it's the Gloom Belt that matters. From 1993 to 2001 and then again from 2003 to '06, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted two nationwide surveys asking a total of 2.4 million respondents about their overall mood, particularly how many days in the preceding month their mental health had generally not been good. What the researchers were looking for was what they called frequent mental distress (FMD), which they defined as 14 or more bad days out of 30. In the 1993-to-2001 study, 9% of Americans were found to be suffering from FMD; in the 2003-to-'06 survey, that number nosed up to 10.2%. The saddest state was Kentucky, with a steady 14.4% of residents reporting FMD in both surveys. West Virginia was next. Its score of 9.6% in the first sample soared to 14.9% in the second. The mood of Mississippians worsened similarly, with melancholy increasing from 9.4% of residents to 13.7%. Hawaii's average score of 6.6% topped the happy list. The next sunniest states were Kansas and Nebraska, which tied at 7.5%. But almost everywhere else in 44 states and the District of Columbia the trend lines were down, and they've surely sagged further along with the economy. Never mind the Dow or the S&P; the true national indicator may be the FMD.