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Discuss The Biological Explanation for Depression and Biological Treatments for Depression

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Discuss The Biological Explanation for Depression and Biological Treatments for Depression The biological explanation or the 'medical model' would favour the nature side of the nature nurture debate. This approach or explanation of dysfunctional behaviour / depression asserts that something in our biology or genetic makeup is the cause of the affective disorder depression. / dysfunctional behaviour such as depression. A number of things such as genetics (a predisposition), biochemical imbalance or even malformation of the structure of the brain are seen to contribute in their own ways to a person suffering from depression. Research has provided evidence to suggest that depression, a mood disorder, may be caused by other family members being diagnosed. Having a first degree relative (parent or sibling) with depression appears to be a risk factor for depression. Family studies such as Wenders select people who already depression. Twin studies also provide evidence of depression running in families. In Wenders study (1986) they looked at the biological relatives of adopted people who had been hospitalised for severe depression. The study found a much higher incidence of severe depression in those relatives than those of a non-depressed control group Wender concluded from this research that there is a significant genetic link between unipolar depression and suicide as there were 15 times more suicides amongst the biological relatives of the participants with mood disorder compared to the adoptive parents. ...read more.


However people have a choice about their behaviour and whether they want to do anything about it. This suggests the biological explanation does not account for free will. The final weakness of the biological explanation of depression is that is reductionist. The reason for this is because it explains depression in terms of one's genes and neurotransmitters and ignores psychological factors such as learning. This suggests that the biological explanation is over- simplistic when explaining depression. In contrast the psychological explanations reject the view that depression is caused by biological factors. Instead it favours the idea that the disorder is caused by traumatic life events such as loss, death of a close relative, even divorce. Theses can lead to a cycle of disturbed and negative thinking which perpetrates the depression. This suggests that perhaps people are born with a genetic tendency towards depression but it also takes certain life events to trigger it off. In conclusion the diathesis stress model which suggests that there is a genetic vulnerability to a disorder (diathesis), but that this is triggered when an individual has been exposed to a stressful life event. Both these factors are necessary for a disorder to develop. Biological Treatments for Depression Biological treatments for depression are probably the ones most people think of when talking about treating depression. ...read more.


It can be easier and quicker for GP's to prescribe drugs than to engage in counselling [for which they may not be trained]. However, there are problems of addiction and dangerous side-effects, such as addiction and the difficulty people may have in coming off the drugs. Furthermore drugs are not cures; they are short-term remedies that may become long-term problems. Also, drugs do not necessarily provide a long-term cure, when the person stops taking the drugs, the symptoms may recur. They treat the symptoms but do not treat the problem. But people may prefer to take them because taking tablets are a familiar activity, unlike other psychological therapies, such as psychoanalysis or CBT which may be lengthy and incur financial burden. Furthermore drugs may have a placebo effect - the person feels that they are better because they are taking a pill, irrespective of what is in the pill. Has the drug helped, or has the person helped themselves? Hence, alternatively, the person may have got better without the drug. Their improvement coincided with taking the tablet. Drugs may be effective because the patient believes that the doctor expects them to improve and this can affect their health. This again questions the validity for the person taking medication and of the biological treatments alone. In conclusion although evidence strongly suggest the effectiveness of drugs alone in treating an affective disorder such as depression, a more holistic approach looking at the individual and the ' problem' may be more progressive. ...read more.

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