Depression (Unipolar Disorder



Psychodynamic Explanations
 Mourning & Melancholia

Freud(1917) – when a loved one is lost, there is a mourning period and after life returns to normal. For some, the mourning period never seems to end. They continue in a state of permanent ‘melancholia’ (depression). Mourning & Melancholia are very much the same, both a reaction to the loss of a loved one. Mourning is a natural process. Melancholia is a pathological (mental) illness.

Psychodynamic Explanations
 Pathology of Depression

Freud believed we unconsciously have some negative feelings towards those we love. When we lose them, those negative feelings turn on ourselves. This period, is followed by mourning as we recall the person and begin to separate ourselves from them. In some, this period goes astray and we continue to selfabuse and self-blame; anger continues to be directed inwards. Depression: ‘anger turned against oneself’

 Many people who have suffered from depression

describe their parents as ‘affectionless’ (Shah & Waller, 2000) – supports Freud’s concept of loss through withdrawal of affection. Men who has lost their fathers during childhood scored higher on a depression scale than those whose fathers had not died (Barnes & Prosen, 1985). Bifulco et al. (1992) – children’s mothers who died in childhood are more likely to experience depression in later life. However this link may be explained by the lack of care from parents and parent substitutes.
 Loss probably explains only a small % of depression

cases. (Only 10% of those who experienced early loss later become depressed – Paykel & Cooper, 1992). Weakness of the psychodynamic approach - therapy

Cognitive Explanations
 Beck’s (1967) Theory of Depression

Depressed people feel depressed because their thinking is subjective/biased towards negative explanations of the world. They have obtained a negative schema (mental structure that represents some aspect of the world) during childhood. This may be cause by parental/peer rejection, teacher criticism and parents depressive attitudes. These negative schemas are activated whenever they encounter a new situation mirroring original conditions in which schemas were learnt. Negative schemas are also subject to certain cognitive biases in thinking. Negative schemas and cognitive biases maintain what Beck calls the Negative Triad, a negative view of one self, world (not coping with demands of environment) and

 Beck’s theory is supported by research.

Hammen & Krantz (1976) – depressed women made more errors in logic than non-depressed ppt. when asked to understand written material. Depressed ppt. who were given negative automatic thought-like statements/material became more and more depressed. (Bates et al. 1999) However... The existence of a link between negative thoughts and depression does not mean that the negative thoughts have actually caused depression.

Cognitive Explanations
 Learned Helplessness (Seligman, 1974)

Depression may be learned when individuals try but fail to control unpleasant experiences. Resulting in a loss of control over their life, and becoming depressed = learned helplessness. Seligman discovered depressed people thought about unpleasant events in more negative ways than nondepressed people. Reformulated Helplessness Theory (Abramson et al. 1978) – depressed person thinks the cause of such unpleasant events is internal, stable and global. Depressed people show a depressive attributional style (an individual's explanation of why events happen) – they

 Seligman’s theory was based on research with dogs.

Animal responses may not reflect human experiences. Attributions are part of the learned helplessness theory, and it is difficult to see how this could explain non-human animal behaviour (as they can’t male attributions) However... Theory is been demonstrated in human studies. Hiroto & Seligman, 1974 – students exposed to uncontrollable harsh events were likely to fail on cognitive tasks. Miller & Seligman, 1974 – depressed students given similar task later performed the worst. So, having some control and not feeling completely helpless improves performance. Supports the theory. Wu et al. 1999 – found in rats, uncontrollable negative events led to lower serotonin/norepinephrine levels, providing a link with the biological explanations of

Cognitive Explanations
 Hopelessness

Abramson et al. (1989) changed the helplessness theory into the hopelessness theory. Theory explains depression on the basis of negative expectations of the future. Hopeless person expects bad things to happen and does not expect good things to happen and does not believe they have the capability to change that situation = depression.

 Kwon & Laurenceau (2002) – ppt. with a higher negative

attributional style (an individual's explanation of why events happen) showed more symptoms associated with depression when stressed (evidence to support)
 A negative attributional style may be more common in

women who throughout their social development are taught to think negatively about themselves (Notman & Nadelson, 1995). This may explain why many women suffer from depression than men.

 Cognitive Explanation

Cognitive explanations are associated with successful therapies for depression. Butler & Beck (2000) – reviewed 14 meta-analyses. Investigating effectiveness of Beck’s cognitive theory. Concluded about 80% of adults benefited from the therapy. The therapy more successful than drug therapy and had a lower relapse rate, supporting the proposition that depression has a cognitive basis.

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