Severe Depression from the Clinical Psychological Perspective Michelle Brummet
Introduction to Applied Behavioral Sciences 200
Instructor Jeannine Jones
October 6, 2014
Severe Depression from the Clinical Psychological Perspective
Let’s first define what psychology and applied psychology means and how it is applied. Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and why people act the way they do. Applied psychology is the professional application of knowledge, sometimes psychological, to the possible solution of problems associated with human behavior. Clinical psychologists, according to Davey (2011); “…are closely involved in helping people to recover from these kinds of problems. They attempt to help people to understand the causes of their difficulties, provide interventions that can help to alleviate specific symptoms associated with their difficulties, and provide support and guidance through the period of recovery” (sect. 2.1).
Millions of people all over the world are affected every day by depression. It ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness, and to severe, persistent depression. It can affect anyone, anytime. Severe depression can often cripple one’s life or worse, result in the taking of one’s own life.
I picked case #1 for the core of my topic. Let me introduce you to Joe who is suffering from severe depression. His father, grandmother, and two uncles suffered with the same abnormal condition, suggesting depression can be hereditary or genetic. One of Joe’s uncles committed suicide as well. Joe’s depression started or surfaced after he was laid off from work, and became disabling when his wife divorced him taking their kids and their home. In Joe’s circumstances, it is plain to see just why he has become angry, hopeless, and depressed. Clinical psychologists have studied thousands of cases such as Joe’s as the importance of this topic cannot be quantified. Millions of Americans suffer from this abnormality; the differences are outside influences/extenuating DEPRESSION 3 circumstances, influences from family, chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic, nationality, and or self-inflicted psychosis. There are many theories on the board so to speak but I’ve selected a few I believe are important enough to consider. In Joe’s case, there are numerous factors as to the origin of his severe depression. As I’ve stated, his loss of job, wife, children, and home would be enough for anyone to become distressed, let alone someone with underlying cognitive biases. Davey (2011) describes certain mental behavior as maladaptive. “In its extreme form, maladaptive behavior might involve behaving in a way that is a threat to the health and wellbeing of the individual and others” (sect. 22.214.171.124). Maladaptive behavior inhibits a person’s ability to adjust or cope to a particular situation or circumstances. In Joe’s case, all that has happened to him is extreme and without a clinical psychologist to help, Joe might very well end up in a place where his uncle found himself and the worst case scenario, end his own life. One of the most consistent findings in the study of depression; “…in depression research severe life events often, not always, precede the onset of a major depressive episode” (Monroe, Slavich, Torres & Gotlib, pp.864). The onset of Joe’s depression is caused by both external and internal circumstances. His job loss, wife and kids, and being kicked out of the home he built with his family are extremely major events as well as depression runs in his family. The inability to cope or adjust to life’s major events or changes is the topic of studies all over the world; is it behavioral, hereditary, environmental, or chance. I have come across some interesting information throughout my research and it seems that more than one study and the researchers involved have classified depression in the following manner; “Depression may be used to refer to several different but related concepts. It can be thought of as an affect, emotion, mood, symptom, disease, or diagnostic label, and may refer to both normal and pathological events that can be transient or enduring”
DEPRESSION 4 (Mayer, 1978, as cited by Dunn, Sham, & Hand, 993). Depression seems to be very difficult to classify specifically without a personality profile. In general, depression and severe depression is measured and studied differently depending on the geographics and circumstances of the onset of the condition.
In the context of Joe’s case relevant studies did include the social stress model. A critical feature of the social stress model is the apparent relationship between stress and depression. “Although studies have demonstrated a connection between the two, the relationship may be contaminated by genes affecting both stress and depression” (Schnittker, J., 2010). In other words, gene and environmental correlations may be stronger for some forms of stress than others. Genetic influences, affect a person’s behavior and their ability to cope with life events which in turn, affect that person’s ability to cope with levels of stress. Having said that, both determine whether an individual such as Joe, is able to adapt, cope, and perceive life’s events.
The trend in clinical psychological medicine is that with therapy, and on occasion drugs, people such as Joe can and do develop the skills to cope and adjust to major events that would otherwise cripple and cause profound reactions/behavior. The downside to therapy or prescribed drugs is some people don’t seek professional help and or they feel that self-medication through illegal substances is the answer, if only a quick fix seems to lessen the problem.
Severe depression takes consistency and patience not only for family members of the patient, but for the psychologist as well. A treatment plan should depend on the state of mind of the patient and most relevant causes of stress. The fact that some of Joe’s relatives suffer from the same abnormal condition, should be taken into account.
So while the topic of depression has come front and center, it is an opportunity for everyone to recognize the significant challenges associated with depression and the many forms that depression can take. There are numerous factors to consider when one begins to try to understand the origins of depression as there are so many explanations, study results, and clinical explanations that are on the table. DEPRESSION 5
Depression can stall one’s life or even result in the taking of one’s own life as with Joe’s uncle. One element we all know for sure, we all have the capabilities to suffer depression in our life path, it is how well we cope, how strong our support, and I believe, a family condition.
Depression is anger turned inwards. And for some it is a medical condition that they must learn how to live with. No matter, depression is real, strong, and regardless of what the causes, should be taken seriously.
DEPRESSION 6 References
Brown, G., (2002). Social roles, context and evolution in the origins of depression. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, Vol. 43, No. 3, (Sep., 2002), pp. 255-276. Retrieved from http://ww.jstor.org/stable/3090203
Cast, A. D. & Burke, P. J. (2002). A theory of self-esteem. Social Forces. Vol. 80, No. 3, (March, 2002), pp. 1041-1068. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable.3056465
Davey, G. (Ed.), (2011). Applied Psychology. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., West Sussex, United Kingdom. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/97848560631
Dunn, G., Sham, P. C. & Hand, D. J., (1993). Statistics and the nature of depression. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (statistics in society), Vol. 156, No. 1, pp. 63-87. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2982861
Monroe, S. M., Slavich, G. M., Torres, L. D. & Gotlib, I. H. (2007). Severe life events predict specific patterns of change in cognitive biasis in major depression. Psychological Medicine, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp.863-871. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204497150
Schnittker, J., (2010). Gene – Environment correlations in the stress – depression relationship. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 51, No. 3, (September 2010), pp. 229-243. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20798289
Street, H., Sheeran, P. & Orbell, S. (1999). Conceptualizing depression: an integration of 27 theories. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 175-193. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview