• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Depression- Biological Explanations

Extracts from this document...


Discuss biological explanation of depression. (25 marks) In order for depression to be diagnosed the person needs to show at least five of these symptoms everyday for a minimum of two weeks. These clinical characteristics for depression can be emotional symptoms; this can involve sadness, melancholy, self-involvement, guilt and even thoughts of suicide. Another characteristic could be a lack of motivation including passivity, loss of interest and energy. The person could also have cognitive problems such as thoughts of hopelessness, pessimism and lack of self-esteem. Finally there can be somatic symptoms such as loss or increase of appetite and weight, and sleep disturbances. Depression is a mood disorder which can have different variations; Unipolar disorder is most common and most severe form of depression and bipolar disorder is where the condition occurs in episodes of depression, periods of normality and periods of mania. This can be caused genetics which can predispose the individual to the disorder. ...read more.


Ultimately the twins share the same environment and so it is difficult for these findings to account for solely biological factors. One way of eliminating environmental factors is adoption studies. Since they were raised apart from their biological relatives, similarities with those relatives would indicate genetic influences. Most studies of adoptees diagnosed with depression show that their biological relatives are more likely than their biological relatives compared with a rate of 20% whereas adoptive relatives have a rate of 5-10%. This suggests that biological factors are more important than psychological in the development of the condition. One other biological explanation for depression can be biochemistry which argues that people do not inherit the condition as such. Nor do they directly inherit a tendency for depression or a risk of depression. Instead what they inherit are genes, and genes make proteins. Genetic differences could therefore present themselves as differences in biochemistry and thus influence depression. ...read more.


However, this explanation is limited in explaning biological causes. There is no evidence to suggest that cortisol causes stress and the development of unipolar depression or stress has caused the increased production of cortisol. If the latter is the case then the hormone explanation could be more down to environmental factors rather biochemical. To conclude the above evidence seems indicate that biological factors influence depression. However, how and why they influence depression is far from clear. Although genes appear to be involved, the role of genetic factors in depression is enormously complex. We do not know which genes are involved fro which people. Furthermore we do not know what these genes do or how they are inherited. Similarly for biochemistry, we know very little about the way in which neurotransmitters like serotonin actually work. Ultimately we do not know that biochemical changes cause depression. Finally, the diathesis-stress model argues all psychological disorders are caused by diathesis (predisposition) and an environmental stressor. We may have the predisposition for depression. However, unless environmental stressors interact with the predisposition the condition will not be developed. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Physiological Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)


The writer has covered some of the key points regarding biology and depression, and has brought all the information together at the end to write a reasonably good conclusion. The writer has a clear plan for the essay and so it follows a logical path.

In order to improve the score add a few more studies and make sure that they are all referenced properly.

Score 3*

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 24/09/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Physiological Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and Evaluate 2 Biological Explanations of OCD

    3 star(s)

    This is also supported by Dougherty (2002) who when studying results of cingulotomies which remove parts of the brain that help the OFC talk to the caudate nucleus, found that 45% of patients responded well to this treatment and had reduced anxiety levels.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Depression. There are several approaches to depression, two of which are psychological and ...

    3 star(s)

    However, Freud's psychodynamic approach is the only theory to relate to the unconscious, apart of the mind which great importance is placed nonetheless his theory is reductionist because it simplifies variables down to the unconscious by saying there is no conscious control over personality development and ignores for example biological factors.

  1. Compare and contrast biological and psychological explanations of anxiety disorders

    Etiologists argue that we are born with innate characteristics which inevitably lead to certain behaviors. This refers to mainly to biological approaches as from the viewpoint people with a particular genetic makeup are seen to have a predisposition to depression.

  2. Outline the social factors that may influence gender roles

    to be encouraged to help with housework and boys with outdoor tasks. This shows that boys are encouraged by their parents to act in a way that they think other boys would act and girls are encouraged to act in a way that they think other girls would act.

  1. Discuss theories of sleep

    sleep for much longer than adults as these pieces of information indicate that REM sleep is spent repairing our bodies and helping young brains to develop. Conversely, there is also much evidence to dispute this theory. It has been pointed out that protein synthesis occurs 24 hours a day, not

  2. Discuss the role of endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers in the sleep/wake cycle, and ...

    Even though there is proof to show that endogenous pacemakers and exogenous zeitgebers work together to control and regulate our sleep/wake cycle, this topic does raise the age old psychology debate of nature versus nurture. On the one hand we have the biological process of the pacemaker that we are

  1. Discuss Biological Therapies for Depression.

    One strength of antidepressants is the fact they are the most common type of treatment used for depression. For example, if someone is diagnosed with depression, antidepressants are usually the first treatment that a patient is advised to take by clinicians.

  2. I will talk about the history and what the psychological and physical aspects of ...

    By the mid ? 1890?s he had given up hypnosis as it fell out of favour. Modern day acceptance of hypnosis in medicine that we now have owes a great debt to research starting in the 1920?s and 30?s by Clark Hull and his student Milton Erickson.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work