Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unipolar Disorders - Psychosocial Factors (At A Glance...)

Unipolar Disorders - Psychosocial Causes

1. Stressful Life Events as Causal Factors:
Severely stressful life events such as loss of a loved one, severe health or severe economic problems can serve as precipitating factors for unipolar depression. Losses that involve an element of humiliation are especially dangerous.
2. Mildly Stressful Events and Chronic Stress do not causes clinical depression.
3. Individual Differences: Women are at a greater risk for depression. Individuals with two short alleles are twice as likely to develop depression after a stressful life-event than those with two long alleles.

Personality and Cognitive Diatheses
Neuroticism is the primary personality variable for causing depression. It refers to a stable and heritable personality trait that involves a temperamental sensitivity to negative stimuli.
High levels of introversion also serve as vulnerability factors for depression.

Early Adversity and Parental Loss as a Diathesis
Early parental loss through death or permanent separation creates a vulnerability to depression in adulthood. A child's response to the loss has a lot to do with what happens after the loss. In case, the child receives good parental care, there is no vulnerability to depression.

Psychodynamic Theories: According to Freud, there is a similarity between the symptoms of clinical depression and the symptoms seen in people who mourn the loss of a loved one. According to Freud, the mourner regresses to the oral stage of development and incorporates all the feelings towards the loss person on to feelings towards the self (in the oral stage, the infant cannot distinguish between the self and others). According to Freud, these feelings include anger and hostility as we unconsciously hold negative feelings towards those we love because of the power they can exert over us. Thus, depression is anger turned inward. Freud also stated that someone who has lost his mother or whose parents cannot fulfil the infantile needs for nurturance and care develop a vulnerability for depression.
Other psychodynamic theorists like Klein and Jakobson emphasize the importance of the mother-infant relationship in establishing a vulnerability to depression.
Behavioral Theories: Behavioral theories of depression propose that people become depressed either when their responses no longer produce positive reinforncement or when their rate of negative reinforcements increase.

Beck's Cognitive Theory: Beck hypothesized that cognitive symptoms of depression often precede and cause the affective or mood symptoms. As per Beck's theory, first, there are depressogenic or dysfunctional beliefs which are rigid, extreme and counter-productive. These depression-producing beliefs or schemas are thought to develop during childhood and adolescence owing to negative experiences with one's parents and significant others. Although they may lie dormant for several years in the absence of significant stressors - when the stressors are present, these dysfunctional beliefs are activated and produce negative automatic thoughts that centre around 3 themes: negative thoughts about the self, negative thoughts about the environment, and negative thoughts about one's future. This negative cognitive triad is maintained by cognitive biases or errors such as all-or-none reasoning, selective abstractions and arbitrary inference.


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