Critical Analysis of Depression

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Exploration of Depression: A Critical Analysis of Attachment Strategies

Simone M. Maschler
Victorian University

Word Count
1600 (excluding references)
Abstract

Currently attachment theory is widely used to understand adult interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships such as depression. According to this theory and substantial body of evidence pessimistic thinking originates from early childhood attachment strategies, and has a major role in depression. As an adult according to the theory, negative cognitive schemas originate from primed attachment style, which both within a contextual environment will activate and lead to a depressive episode. In reviewing this relationship, interventions and prevention in cognitive counselling practice need to be explored and effectiveness considered, as they are indicative of the underlying relationship. Attachment theory as proposed by Bowlby was based on the clinical observation and proposed that disruptions in mother-child relationship are precursors of later psychopathology (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999). Depression is characterised as a Major Depressive Episode, when five of the described symptoms last for a minimum duration of two weeks and must include either depressed mood or loss of interest (4th ed., text rev.; DSM–IV–TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Symptoms include: significant weight loss or gain or increase or decrease in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, diminished concentration or indecisiveness, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Depression, which can be triggered by the interaction of stressful events such as: a loss of relationship through death or divorce; and demonstrated as negative cognitive processing bias such as predicting pessimistically performance on a test reflecting IQ (Strunk et al, 2009), has an complex relationship to those childhood relationships. Cooley et al, (2010) found that the internal models formed through attachment style influence how individuals perceive themselves and others in interpersonal contexts.

Attachment theory proposes that early life relationships and social emotional attachments contribute to perception and behavioural experiences of the adult (Cooley, Van Buren, & Cole, 2010). Early attachment style refers the child’s relationship with their primary caregiver; typically the mother (Cassidy, & Shaver, 1999). Cassidy et al. (1999) defined an adult who is securely attached having trusting intimate relationships; In contrast an ambivalent attachment style was defined as an individual reluctance to become close to others, while an avoidant attachment involves difficulty in expressing and engaging with intimacy. Attachment theory is widely used to explain and investigate interpersonal relationships across an individual’s lifespan.

Psychological distress is known to develop where a lack of secure attachment has been substantiated and a subsequent negative view of the self has been recognised to develop (Cooley et al, 2010). Cooley et al. (2010) used surveys to explore the relationships between attachment styles, social competence skills and depression among relatively young college women. Participants with a positive view of self or others were less likely to report symptoms of depression. Cooley et al. (2010) recognized several limitations in their research study such as participants were female from two college settings, excluding the wider community and men in their study.

The Cooley et al. (2010) studies utilised the BDI (Beck Depression Inventory) and ICQ (Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire) which were deemed to be effective measures producing reliable data that can be generalised to life situations. They further proposed that more diverse samples, involving participants from various cultural backgrounds would reduce the confines of studies and that...
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