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Discuss at least one biological explanation of depression

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Charlotte Phillips Discuss at least one biological explanation of depression. Refer to empirical evidence in your answer. (12 marks) One biological explanation of depression is the biochemical explanation, which states that low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain can cause a person to suffer from depression. Serotonin can affect sleep patterns, hunger, energy levels and activity. Teuting et al found out that lower levels of compound that is produced by the breakdown of serotonin and adrenalin was found in the urine of depressed people compared to non-depressed people. This empirical evidence suggests that low levels of serotonin and adrenalin are present in depressed people which shows support for the biochemical explanation of depression. ...read more.


A farther strength is that the explanation can be proved by the blood pressure drug Reserpine which can cause depression in people. A side effect of reserpine is reduced levels of serotonin which can be an explanation to why many people on the drug experience depression and also highlight the fact low levels of serotonin is the cause of depression. Another explanation of depression is genetics, which states that depression is caused by genes. A way of empirically studying a possible genetic base of something is by conducting a twin study which McGuffin et al did. He studied the concordance rates of depression in 68 pairs of monozygotic twins and 109 dizygotic twins and found that the monozygotic twins had a higher concordance rate of 46% than the dizygotic twin. ...read more.


A limitation of the genetic explanation is that it doesn?t consider the effect of the environment, for example monozygotic twins share the same environment which could explain the high concordance rate for depression. Overall the biological explanation is reductionist which means it breaks down the explanation in to parts. This is a limitation because it doesn?t show how the different biological explanations work together to cause depression, for example there is no link between genetic and biochemical explanations which means the biological explanation cannot be explained as a whole. A farther limitation of the biological explanations a whole is that they ignore free will and suggest that depression is caused by genetic or biochemicals and that people have no choice in their behaviour as it determined by these factors which not true as not everyone with low serotonin levels or is genetically close to someone will have depression themselves. ...read more.

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