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To What Extent are Affective Mood Disorders Biologically Determined?

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Introduction

To What Extent are Affective Mood Disorders Biologically Determined? Affective mood disorders are mental disorders characterised by disturbances in mood and emotional states, unlike Schizophrenia, the most severe of mental disorders, which is distinguished by problems with thought processes. These affective mood disorders can include variations such as Bipolar disorders where the patient experiences two extreme states; mania accompanied with depression and Unipolar disorders where only the depressive state is present. There have been many suggestions as to the cause of these disorders. It has long been thought that there are two types of depression: reactive and endogenous. Reactive depression follows the psychodynamic view that depression relates to life events such as loss of a loved one and endogenous depression mirrors the cognitive approach where the individual attributes failures internally thus bringing on depression. However the DSM-IV only lists two sub-types of depression, which are reliant upon the length that the patient has suffered for. These are major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder. Biochemical explanations are mainly associated with unipolar depression and were developed in the 1950's with the introduction of Tricyclic drugs, which were discovered to help those with depressive symptoms. It has been suggested that chemical imbalances in the brain cause these depressive symptoms. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore it may simply be the case that more women report their problems than men, who keep their feelings of depression to themselves. This difference also occurs with unipolar depression and can be accounted for by the vast amounts of hormonal changes women endure through menstruation, child carrying and the menopause. McGuffin et al (1996) compared 109 pairs of twins and found a rate of 46 per cent concordance in MZ twins to that of 20 per cent in DZ twins; this study shows a genetic link for depression but that it is not the only factor. If depression were only caused by genetics then the concordance rates would be 100 per cent for MZ twins and 50 per cent for DZ twins, suggesting that other factors play an important role. This genetic link may be due to environmental factors as the patients are likely to live in a shared environment. This suggests that the concordance rates occur not because depression is hereditary but because it can be learnt. This however could also work in reverse; a relative may not suffer from depression because they have experienced depression and have learnt ways to cope with their feelings and experiences. ...read more.

Conclusion

Beck sated that strategies to cope with these negative thoughts can be developed and that the environment can either strengthen or weaken them. The Diathesis Stress model takes into account both biological and psychological factors. This approach is able to give a much more accurate interpretation of the causes of mood disorders as it uses all available information such as serotnin levels, negative thoughts, family history and genetics. The diathesis stress model uses these factors as a predisposition, life events then act as a trigger, stimulating the disorder, there fore if biological and psychological factors give you a high predisposition it is very likely that you will suffer from one type of mood disorder. This culmination of factors explains to a certain extent why in some cases patients suffer from major depression or bipolar disorder and others do not. By looking at a culmination of factors it can be explained to a certain extent anomalies in research evidence, such as why the concordance rates for MZ and DZ twins are not 100 per cent and 50 per cent and why some anti-depressants work well for certain patients while having adverse effects on others. It is my opinion that the diathesis stress model gives the best causes for depression, as it cannot be said from looking at the relevant research studies that affective mood disorders are caused by one single factor such as the biological explanation. ...read more.

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