Clinical psychology

HideShow resource information

Unipolar depression – 2 explanations

Monoamine Hypothesis

·         Noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine exist in lower levels  of the brain

·         Anti-depressant drugs increase the levels of one or more monoamines and easy symptoms of depression

·         Low levels of serotonin produce low levels of noradrenaline which causes alertness, energy etc

·         Low dopamine can lead to lack or pleasure or reward

·         Anti-depressant drugs have to be matched to the symptoms so that the right neurotransmitter will increase

Certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin are lower in the brain when someone has depression. Anti-depressant drugs can be prescribed to increase these levels. Certain monoamines have different effects on a person’s mood i.e. noradrenaline causes alertness and energy therefore the correct anti-depressant has to be prescribed based on these symptoms. Low levels of dopamine would relate to the person’s ability to feel pleasure and to want reward highlighting how different symptoms are dependent on the monoamine. Anti-depressant prescription is crucial in terms of being appropriate for the symptoms.

+     Evidence that drugs that treat monoamine deficiencies work

+     Different monoamines linking to different symptoms are effectively treated through correct drug prescription

-     Low levels of neurotransmitters could be the effect and not the cause

-     MRI scans show depressed people have differences in the brain like smaller hippocampus’s which could be the cause of lower serotonin

-     Another biological explanation looks at the role of cortisol and stress and this has nothing to do with monoamines

-     Rausch et al (2002) showed success of SSRI treatment and is dependent on the sufferers genes

Beck – Cognitive Theory (1967)

·         Depression is a result of negative thinking

·         Habitual, spontaneous thoughts without choice – constantly critical

·         Making changes to thinking patterns can help a patient cope with depression

1.      Cognitive Triad – theory of depression


Constant exposure to faulty cognitions can lead to depression






2.      Negative self-schemata and faulty thinking

·         As a result of early traumas or unhappy childhood experiences, the individual develops a negative schemata (set of beliefs and expectations which are self-blaming and pessimistic)

·         Leads to cognitive distortions –faulty thinking, negative and unrealistic ideas

3.      Cognitive distortions

·         All or nothing thinking – doesn’t see the middle ground

·         Magnification – exaggerate the significance of an event

·         Minimisation – underplay a positive event

·         Overgeneralisation – sweeping conclusion on basis of single event

Seligman and Maier (1967) – ‘Theory of learned helplessness’

1.      Learned helplessness

·         Their theory is the view that clinical depression may result from a perceives absence of control over the outcome of a situation

·         People learn to give up because they have experienced only failure

2.      Attributional style

1.      Internal – I’m not good enough

2.      Stable – I never do well





the first half of this resource is at this link

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Health and clinical psychology resources »