Psychological Explanations for Depression

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  • Psychological Explanations
    • Mourning and melancholia
      • AO1
        • When a loved one is lost, there is a mourning period, where we recall memories of them and begin to move on
        • In some cases, this process goes astray and we continue a pattern of self-abuse and self-blame because anger against the person lost is directed inwards
        • This results in depression (anger turned against onself).
        • For some the mourning period never ends, a state of melancholia
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        • 1) Shah and Waller
          • found that many people who have suffered from depression describe their parents as affectionless
          • Suggests that a loss of a loved one plays a role in the development of depression
          • Implies that depression is a result of the extension of the mourning (melancholia) and direction of anger at the loss at oneself
        • 2) Barnes and Prosen
          • Further support
          • Men who had lost their fathers through death during childhood scored higher on a depression scale
          • again suggesting that withdrawal of affection or bereavement can lead to an extended period of mourning
        • 3) Correlational Research
          • Does not show cause and effect
          • Other factors may have more of an influence in the formation of depression
            • Paykel and Copper
              • Loss probably only explains a relatively small percentage of cases of depression
              • estimated that only 10% of those who experience early loss later become depressed
              • This suggests that other factors are involved, e.g becoming homeless
    • Beck's Cognitive Theory
      • AO1
        • Depression is caused by biased thinking, towards negative interpretations of the environment
        • Depressed individuals acquire a negative schema in childhood, and therefore have a tendency to take a negative view of the world
        • negative schema is activated whenever the individual enters a new situation, such as an exam, that is similar to the original conditions which the schema was learned, resulting in depression
        • The cognitive traid mantains the depression
      • AO2
        • 1) Butler and Beck
          • concluded that 80% of adults benefitted from Beck’s cognitive therapy
          • This supports the idea that depression has a cognitive basis
          • And implies that the theory is internally valid
        • 2) Kronbot et al.
          • found that people with depression have a more accurate perception of time than those without 
          • This suggests that those with depression think differently, and therefore perceptions are different
          • The study also suggests that not all thoughts are negative, as depressed individuals were more accurate
            • The theory may be limited by generalising all depressive cognitions as negative.
        • Correlational research
          • No cause and effect
            • 3) Kinderman et al.
              • found that in a survey, traumatic life events were the single biggest determinant of anxiety and depression
              • family history, income and education levels and relationship issues also had significant contributions
              • No single cause of depression. This implies that Beck’s theory may be flawed


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