Causes of Depression

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  • Depression is a mood disorder characterised by low mood and wide range of other symptoms which can be brought on by life events and or changes in the body chemistry. Unipolar: Basic Depression=90%.   Bipolar: Manic Depression

Genes – Biological
Adoption Studies: The advantage adoption studies are that they are separated into different environments and from the same genes, therefore it is easier to look at their genetic information.
Wender (1986) found that the biological relatives of adopted sufferers of depression were 7X more likely than their adopted relatives to have had major depression themselves. Also with adopted children who went on to develop depression, their biological parents were 8X more likely to have depression than their adoptive parents. As the results were from small samples they are not representative. They experience different experience to everyone else and adoption is stressful. The samples are not general to the population. Issue with adoptive studies is that children are often placed in adopted homes that are very similar to their birth family, confusing the issues off genes and environment. Evidence suggests depression has genetic basis.
H! An issue with the theory that depression in completely due to genetic factors is that we would expect the concordance rates for MZ twins to be 100%. Identical twins have identical genes, meaning that they should have identical illnesses. Something else must be happening to explain the low concordance rate.

Psychodynamic Theories (psychological)
Freud’s (1917) explanation of depression is that it is like grief & is often a reaction of loss or rejection (could be real or symbolic).
Individuals repress negative feelings about this loss. They identity with the ‘lost’ person and these negative feelings are directed towards themselves causing feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem i.e. depression.
Shah and Waller (2000) found people with depression describe their parents as ‘affectionless’ supporting Freud’s concept of loss through withdrawal of affection.
FE: Bifulco et al (1992) found women who had lost their mother as a child (separation/death) were more likely to suffer anxiety & depression as adults. This seems to suggest that the early loss of a parent can lead to later depression.


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