Basic Psychology, Psychopathology

Depression – Causes and Treatment


Genes : For many people, genetics may play a part, with research suggesting around 30-40% of the risk for developing depression may be due to genetic factors.

Biology :Research has found some differences in areas of the brain, and brain activity in people with depression compared to people without. The areas of the brain that differ relate to emotional responses and emotion regulation, the interpretation of information (with a bias for negative information) and response to stress. Interestingly, many of these differences decrease with treatment.

Stressful Life Events :Research suggests that the greater the number of stressful life events a person experiences, the greater their chances of developing depression. Early life stress and trauma can also increase the likelihood of developing depression later in life.

Thinking Style :People who tend to dwell on negative events, worry excessively, or hold a more negative view of themselves, the world, or the future are more prone to depression.



Psychological treatments

  1. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can bring about lasting change that can decrease the chance of having depression again in the future. It helps the person to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours which can contribute to depression, and aims to build skills to manage depression in an ongoing way.
  2. Problem-solving therapy helps people gain mastery over day-to-day difficulties, stresses and problems which otherwise might seem overwhelming.
  3. Behavioural activation aims to increase motivation and help a person to return to their usual activities. In behavioural activation, activities and behaviours that can help to improve mood and quality of life are planned for in an ‘activity schedule’. Typically, a mix of activities are selected including some which the person finds enjoyable and some which give them a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
  4. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an eight-week group-based program designed to reduce the risk of depression returning (relapse prevention), by teaching participants mindfulness meditation combined with cognitive-behavioural techniques.Mindfulness meditation helps the person to focus on the present moment without judging these experiences or trying to change them. MBCT has been found to be effective in preventing relapse, and there is some evidence that it may be effective as a treatment of depression as well. MBCT is also being offered as individual rather than group-based therapy however research on the effectiveness of this format is currently limited.
  5. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) involves addressing problems in the person’s relationships and expectations about others that might be contributing to their mood. IPT helps people to:
      • find new ways to develop and nurture relationships
      • resolve conflicts with others
      • express emotions and communicate more effectively
      • adapt to changes in life roles
      • improve social support networks.

Other treatment options

For some people, other procedures, sometimes called brain stimulation therapies, may be suggested in very worst situations like severe depressions .

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). In ECT, electrical currents are passed through the brain to impact the function and effect of neurotransmitters in your brain to relieve depression. ECT is usually used for people who don’t get better with medications, can’t take antidepressants for health reasons or are at high risk of suicide.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS may be an option for those who haven’t responded to antidepressants. During TMS, a treatment coil placed against your scalp sends brief magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in your brain that are involved in mood regulation and depression.

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