Do Analogue Samples in Depression Aid in Our Knowledge of Depression and Its Treatment?

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Do Analogue Samples in Depression Aid in our knowledge of Depression and its Treatment?

Over the years, it has been evident that many scholars, researchers, and mental health professionals in the psychology field are heavily relying on college/university students when studying mental health conditions.  More specifically, a prominent mental condition that has dramatically risen over the years in its prevalence is what most people encounter at least once in their lifetime but the extreme aspects of this disorder causes excruciating emotional pain and is highly debilitating. This disorder is depression. Depression is a disorder on a spectrum and the more extreme the illness is, the higher level of damaging effects it has, incapacitating an individual. Moreover the diagnosis, impact, and effect of depression vary from person to person. Almost everyone feels melancholic and depressed at one point in time due to external factors that they are faced with, but a clinical diagnosis is made when the ‘depressed’ state of mind takes control of one’s life and becomes detrimental to their health.  For example, it can take a toll on one’s health and intervene with one’s lifestyle limiting their ability to do several things such as working, interacting with individuals, finding the energy to do things and so forth. According to the DSM IV model, an individual who suffers from major depressive disorder must have symptoms of depression such that they either have a depressed mood or a loss of interest/lack of pleasure in daily activities consistently for at least a period of 2 weeks.  This requirement excludes depressed moods caused by substance use such as drugs, alcohol and medications. A major multifaceted issue that has come to controversial grounds when studying depression in depth is the population that is being used in the studies related to the depression diagnosis criteria.  Sears (1986) recorded that most of the studies in social psychology over the past 25 years had depended on college student as subjects who were tested in an academic laboratory.  According to Vredenburg, Flett, and Krames (1993), 82% of articles published in 1980 examined college students as subjects, and this increased to 85% by 1985.  As all studies rely on generalization and validity in order for its results and findings to be of significance to society, it is important to consider the population that is being used to collect information about individuals that are diagnosed with depression.  The main question is whether the results obtained from the use of college students diagnosed with depression is homogenous to the results of that of a general population outside of a student body life.  Although using college students as study subjects has provided groundbreaking insights and developments into the illness of depression, even for its treatment, there are many problematic issues that exist, especially when analyzing major depressive disorders. This paper will examine these issues and also address the benefits that proponents of ‘college students as subjects’ state as advantages. When examining college students, self-assessment reports and Beck Depression Inventory is used and the responses collected from these tools are interpreted as providing evidence for clinical depression.  This suggests that the differences between the groups are more quantitative as opposed to qualitative.  A number of large clinical and community studies have supported an emerging consensus that major depression exists on a continuum with sub-threshold depression symptoms (Enns, Cox, & Borger, 2001).  According to James C. Coyne (1994), the term psychopathology is not considered to be accurate and should not be used to describe elevated scores on self-report inventories.  Many of the elevated scores that college students produced are a result of distress that is slight and not of significance in comparison to actual clinical depression.  There are also...
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