Explanations of Depression (Biological, cognitive and learned helplessness)

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  • Created on: 06-10-21 18:27

Explanations of Depression (Biological, cognitive

Biological: genetic and neurochemical (Oruc et al. 1997)

Research experiment

42 participants: clinical sample

40 participants: control group

sixteen of bipolar group had at least one first degree relative with same major effective disorder.

DNA testing for polymorphisms in serotonin receptors and sreotonin transporter genes. (alterations in these can lead to disturbances in specific biochemical pathways with known links to depressive disorder)


no significant associations in sample,- nuerotransmitter sexualy dismorphic so after seperate testing, trends for association found. Polymorphisms responsible for increases risk of developing bipolar disorder in females.

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Explanations of Depression (Biological, cognitive

Cognitive / Cognitive distortion(Beck 1979)

-negative views of someone with depression can lead to reality for the person. Underlying process if incorrect infromation processing.

-Cognitive distortion, automatic process that developes as result of earlier life experiences., developing schemas; units of knowledge about the world, infromation from senses arranged meaningfully in mind, help categorise new events. Underlie virtually all cognition.

Adverse life event activate potential underlying assumptions, create negative bias toward new events. Results in emotional, cognitive and behavioural symptoms of typical depression.

Triad: Internal negative attributions -->misinterpret external sources being against them -->negative view on future, anticipating failure.

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Explanations of Depression (Biological, cognitive

Learned helplessness and attributional style (Seligman et al)

One finds controlling unpleasant situation difficult and cease to resist it- depression is direct result of real or percieved lack of control over outcomes of one's situation.(difficult upbrigning, leading to learned helplesness) particular pattern of thinking towards world lead to subsequent incline towards negative arrtibutional style. View things as internal (their fault), stable (bad forever), global (more things likely go wrong).

Attributional style basis, attribution: cognitive process by which one explains causes of behaviour and events.

39 (unipolar patients)   -   12 (bipolar patients)  -  10 (control)

Short from of BDI to asses severity, Attributional style questionnaire with 12 hypothetical good and bad events. Made casual attributions and rated cause on 7 point scale for internality, stability and globality.

Bipolar and unipolar patients pessimistic, negative attributional style. Positive correlation between severity of sympotoms on self report and negative attributions. Way we make attributions is important mechanism underlying experience of depression.

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Explanations of Depression (Biological, cognitive


Seligman: standardised questionnaires, valid and reliable tools. Correlational results, difficult to determine cause and effect in research. Not clear link between negative attribution and symptoms.

Oruc et al: limited in terms of sample size, not generalisable. Age is extraneous variable, some participants still within range of being onset for disorder.

Laboratory settings, standardised increased validity and reliabilty, removes researcher bias.

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