Outline and evaluate one or more biological explanation of depression :)

Outline and evaluate one or more biological explanation of depression. In your evaluation, you should refer to research evidence (25 marks)

I can't remeber what I got on this essay, but I think it might have been a B :)

Hope this helps :)

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Outline and evaluate one or more biological explanation of depression. In your
evaluation, you should refer to research evidence. (25 Marks)
One of the most popular explanations of depression is genetics; this theory states that
genes are to blame for the presence of depression. It also argues that depression, like
many other illnesses, is an inherited one which runs in families. Gershon et al. (1989)
research supports this view. In his research, Gershon found that there was a concordance
rate (the proportion of pairs where both individuals share a certain characteristic)
between family members and the risk of developing depression; he concluded that the
more genes individuals share, the more likely they are at developing depression. However,
this piece of research could be argued against as it claims that identical (MZ) twins only
have a 55% chance of inheriting depression. However, if MZ twins share 100% of their
genes, then they should both have 100% chance of developing depression, but according
to this research, that is not the case; this research may also suggest that genetics are
not the main factor in developing depression. Due to this, some psychologists believe that
the theory of genetics cannot be used to explain depression.
McGuffin et al (1996) conducted research on concordance rates using 177 identical and
fraternal twins. They found that the concordance rate was 46% for identical twins, but
only 20% for fraternal twins; these findings are significant as the concordance rate for
identical twins is over double of that for fraternal twins. These findings support the
biological explanation as it suggests that depression has a genetic factor. However, as all
the pairs twins which were used in the study were raised in the same environment, the
depression may have been learned or copied from another family member; therefore, this
piece of research cannot be seen as valid. Also, this study could be said to lack reliability
as it used a small sample size. Furthermore, both Gershon et al's and McGuffin et al's
research could be seen as reductionists as they are over simplifying the complexities of
depression. In addition to this, some psychologists also argue that the genetic
explanation to depression is deterministic as it claims that if an individual's family
members have depression, then they are definitely going to have depression.
According to some psychologists, bio-chemicals are the root cause of depression. The
bio-chemical explanation suggests that depression is the imbalance of certain chemical,
mainly hormones, within the brain. These hormones included noradrenalin, serotonin and
dopamine. Within the bio-chemical explanations of depression, there are three main
theories. The first being the permissive amine hypothesis; this was suggested by Kety
(1975) states that when an individual is experiencing depression, it is due to low serotonin
levels within the brain. When the serotonin levels are low, the other hormones within the
brain (noradrenalin and dopamine) lack control; this then leads to the individual becoming
depressed. McNeal's (1986) research supports this theory as he found that patients who
were experiencing depression and were often suicidal had low levels of serotonin within
their cerebrospinal fluid.
Another theory within bio-chemical explanations of depression is the catecholamine
hypothesis; this theory suggests that depression is the result of abnormally low levels of
noradrenalin. Schildkraunt's (1960) research supports this theory as he found that
participants whose noradrenalin levels were lowered were more likely to develop acute
periods of depression. Also, Seligman (1975) found that dogs who had `learned
helplessness' showed a decrease in the amount of noradrenalin. However, this piece of
research could be argued against as cause and effect cannot be established.
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The final theory of the bio-chemical explanation of depression id the dopamine
hypothesis; this theory suggests that depression is caused by a deficiency of dopamine
within the brain. If there is a lack of dopamine, it could lead to a lack of reinforcement so
an individual would be unable to enjoy pleasurable things.
However the bio-chemical approach to depression could be argued against as it is seen
as reductionist as it over simplifies the complexities of depression.…read more

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