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Depression Psychology Paper

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes (Rathus 4). These studies include the theorization of the causes of mental illness (Rathus 4). Many theories have resulted from people attempting to explain things not yet understood, like the biological theory (Milnes). Depression is in the category of mood disorders, which are disorders that affect a person? s mood in episodes (Milnes). There are various types of depression, with different presumed causes, explained by various theories (American Psychiatric Association 155).

These types of depression are disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder (otherwise known as dysthymia), premenstrual dysmorphic disorder, substance/medication-induced depressive disorder, depressive disorder due to another medical condition, other specified depressive disorder, and unspecified depressive disorder (American Psychiatric Association 155).

Major depressive disorder is the most commonly represented and accurately portrayed depressive disorder in pop culture and sufferers have episodes of at least two weeks with changes in functions that operate through the autonomic nervous system and cognition (American Psychiatric Association 160). The autonomic nervous system is a part of the nervous system that controls functions that are not consciously controlled like breathing and digestion (Milnes).

Major depression symptoms, of which should not be attributed to different medical conditions or substance use, are a generally morose mood most of everyday, which can be observed through the person in question or those around them; lessened or lost interest in activities throughout most days; significant weight loss or gain not accounted for by a change in diet or exercise; lack of the ability to sleep or excessive sleep; slowed physical actions; fatigue; feelings of low to no self-worth or unnecessary guilt; loss of ability to think, focus, or make decisions; and repeated thoughts of death, suicidal ideations, suicide attempt or plans for suicide (American Psychiatric Association 161). In some cases, major depressive disorder can occur in a seasonal pattern (American Psychiatric Association 187).

The criteria to be diagnosed with a seasonally affected major depressive disorder is as follows: there is a certain time of year during which major depressive episodes happen, unrelated to stressor that occur during that time of year, an extreme change in depression to mania, hypomania, or lack of depression at a certain time of year, for a period of at least two years the aforementioned characteristics have been present with no major depressive episode unrelated to the seasons occurring during the time looked at, and the previously mentioned seasonal major depressive episodes must have occurred more frequently than non-seasonal major depressive episodes over the course of the individuals lifetime. (American Psychiatric Association 188). Seasonally-affected depression can be viewed through the scope of the psychobiological theory. The biological perspective deals with hormones and our nervous system (Milnes).

A drop in the neurotransmitter serotonin due to less sunlight can lead to depression (Staff). Additionally, your biological clock because of the decrease in sunlight can cause a winter onset of symptoms of depression (Staff). Because melatonin regulates moods and sleep patterns another possible factor for seasonal major depressive disorder may be the disruption of the body? s melatonin levels. (Staff). It is possible that the cause of this disorder is the result of one or all of these bodily changes. These connections to what occurs within the brain and behavior point directly to a psychobiological perspective for explaining major depressive disorder episodes that occur seasonally.

An additional type of depression is persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), characterized by gloomy mood for the majority of most days for at least 2 years which may also show as irritable mood for at least 1 year in children and with symptoms that lead to struggle in social or other areas. (American Psychiatric Association 168). More than two of these symptoms must be present: binge eating or poor appetite, lack of the ability to sleep or excessive sleep, fatigue or low energy, lack of self-esteem, difficulty with decision making, and general feelings of hopelessness (American Psychiatric Association 169). In order to be diagnosed with this disorder, the symptoms must not be attributable to a schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia delusional disorder, any other disorders on the schizophrenia spectrum, psychotic disorder, a medicine or drug, or a medical condition (American Psychiatric Association 169).

As with most depressive disorders, there is a risk of suicide (American Psychiatric Association 170). Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder is a type of depression that occurs in most menstrual cycles of a sufferer and symptoms that first start before the beginning of menses, improve once menses begins, and are barely apparent or completely gone after menses. There at least five symptoms present during the period of time in which the sufferer is affected (American Psychiatric Association 172). At least one of the following symptoms has to be present: unstable feelings like mood swings, irritability or fights with others, melancholy mood, moroseness, or tension (American Psychiatric Association 173).

Additionally, at least one of these symptoms: lessened interest in activities, hard time concentrating, fatigue or lethargy, difference in appetite or specific cravings, insomnia or hypersomnia, a sense of loss of control, or physical symptoms like breast tenderness or swelling, joint or muscle pain, or a bloating sensation, must occur (American Psychiatric Association 173).

These symptoms must interfere with activities like school or work by causing the person disruption in their ability to perform typical tasks and must not be explained more accurately by a different disorder (American Psychiatric Association 173). Depressive disorders can be explained the cognitive approach. The cognitive theory looks at how people process and use information, and how this information influences what people perceive (Milnes). This theory suggests that the persistent pessimism of depressed people is what causes them to become depressed (Milnes).

The negative view of depressed people can prompt them to develop symptoms of depression because they view life as if they are doomed to bad outcomes (Milnes). Another theory for depressive disorders is the learning theory. The learning theory says behaviors are learned based on whether or not they were punished or rewarded by events in the environment (Milnes). According to this approach, a person can become depressed when they are not being rewarded for their actions (Milnes). The pity given by others for the affected individual is a positive reinforcement for the depression and can further effects of the depression (Milnes). Depression may be explained by psychodynamic thinking. Freud, through the psychoanalytic theory, proposed that unconscious motives influence thoughts and behavior (Milnes).

Because of this Freud may believe depression stems from a childhood disappointment toward the child? s parents or other prominent figures in their childhood. This sadness leads to the child directing the anger at themselves, which would then lead to self-blame for their faults and eventually develop into depression. This child would likely grow into an adult unaware of the cause of their depression because the guilt of how they felt toward their parents as a child was pushed into their unconscious (Milnes). Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder can be attributed to a biological change that happens during the occurrence of symptoms (Rapkin and Erin).

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry signals between neurons and are effected during this period by interacting with progesterone and estrogen, both of which are hormones produced in the ovaries that aid female sexual development. (Braverman). These altered neurotransmitters effect serotonin levels, as supported by research that shows a positive correlation in physical and mental symptoms of premenstrual dysmorphic disorder as a response to drugs that fluctuate serotonin levels (Braverman). This is supported the psychobiological perspective. The psychobiological theory focuses on how emotions and motivation. are effected by how a person? genes, hormones, and nervous system collaborate with their environment (Milnes).

The psychobiological perspective sufficiently explains the correlation between the physical change in the body during menses and the mood of a person at the same time of those changes (Milnes). Depressive disorders can be dangerous and devastating, but are relatively common (Milnes). Treatment for these disorders may be necessary for a person to actively live their life (Milnes). Prescriptions to anti-depressants can help some individuals, but may also increase the risk of suicide (Milnes). A change in environment maybe sufficient treatment, as sometimes the depression is directly related to the environment a person is in (Milnes).

For seasonal affected disorder, lights that mimic sunlight can stabilize dopamine levels (Staff). About 8% of the population will be diagnosed with some form of depression throughout their lives (Milnes). Depressive disorders should receive some form of treatment since depressed people have a risk for suicide (Milnes). When a desire to kill themselves is expressed, 70% of people that mention it will attempt to kill themselves within three months of saying so (Milnes). Mood disorders that fall under the general category of depression can be treated successfully and the hopelessness experienced during the time in which they are active can and will pass if given time (Milnes).

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