Major Depressive Disorder: Theories and Therapies

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Major Depressive Disorder: Theories andTherapies
Deborah G. McGhee
Psychopathology and Social Work: SWK 663
Dr. Nikki Wingerson
July 25, 2012

1. Major Depressive Disorder Definition and Symptoms
Major Depressive Disorder may be diagnosed as one or more episodes of a Major Depressive Episode. Symptoms of a major depressive episode include depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure in activities, weight changes, sleep problems, slowing of speech or agitation, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt, difficulties in thinking, concentrating, or indecisiveness, and thoughts of death, suicide, or suicide attempts. These symptoms are not due to another medical or psychological reason, and they cause clinically significant distress or functional impairment. (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000)

The cause of depression is not completely understood. It is, most likely, a combination of reasons, which may include chemical imbalances in the brain, psychological, or environmental factors, and genetics. Severe life stressors, such as divorce, or job loss, often contribute to depression.

In a twelve month period, 6.7% of the U.S. population is depressed. Of those that are depressed, 30.4% are severe, or 2.0% of the total U.S. population. Lifetime prevalence in the U.S. is 16.5% of the population. (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Prevalence) Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. (NIMH, Demographics) The National Institute of Mental Health also reports that Blacks are 40% less likely than Whites, to experience depression in their lifetime. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the total number of years a person may lose to illness, disability, or death. They have rated Unipolar Depression number one in diseases and disorders, with a loss of 10.3 years, well above heart disease and cancer. (NIMH, Leading Individual Diseases/Disorders) 2. Cognitive Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory of Major Depressive Disorder Cognitive Theory (CT)

Early negative experiences are overgeneralized and become a part of one's schema. The theory, developed by Beck, asserts that one's negative and dysfunctional view of one's self leads to depression. Thought distortions, such as absolute thinking, selective abstraction, and personalization, set one up for failure, and perpetuate the negative thinking, leading to depression. Maladaptive thinking and behavior may be learned or caused by inexperience. Symbolic Interaction Theory (SIT)

A person gives meanings to objects, experiences, and to self. Social interaction with others helps to define those meanings. Symbols and meanings develop and change over time. Self-conception comes from one's social interactions with other's, and how one believes the other person perceives them. If a person believes others are looking at them and judging them negatively, self perception is negative. Depression is caused by negative thinking and perceptions. Etiology: Compare and Contrast

In both Cognitive Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory, dysfunctional and negative thinking about self, form the basis for the depression. Both theories involve thoughts and feelings formed from internal and external stimuli. In both theories, beliefs are based on interpretations rather than reality. In CT, the depression is more self centered and self inflicted. It is more internally based and controlled, while SI depends more on negative external stimuli. Symbolic Interaction Theory adds the concept of interaction with others, while Cognitive Theory does not. Cognitive Theory suggests cognition and behavior are learned and built upon, while Symbolic Interaction Theory suggests thoughts and actions taking place in the present and are dynamic, changing according to the present experience. Dynamics: Compare and Contrast

Cognitive Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory both assert that...
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