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September 24, 2013

Cognitive-Behavioral Causes of Depression

by Angel Pumila

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The Cognitive-Behavioral Causes of Depression

     When researching the causes of depression, you will find that there are opposing viewpoints as to what exactly the onset of depression actually is. From a biological perspective, there’s evidence of a genetic link that creates a chemical imbalance in the brain. On the other hand, the cognitive-behavioral perspective shows that faulty thinking and negative world outlooks is the main cause for depression.  Here, we will address the causes of depression using the cognitive-behavioral theory.

It is believed that changes in mood and faulty thinking can cause a biochemical imbalance, which leads to depression.  An example of that would be the fact that low self-esteem in adolescents has been linked to depression in adulthood.  Another would be that poor living environments create added stressors that lead to depression in poor neighborhoods.  Depressive thoughts can also be learned socially from parents with bad problem solving skills.

Low Self-Esteem Linked to Depression

     Low self-esteem in adolescents has been linked to depression in adulthood. In a cross-sectional study performed by the University of California (Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Sept 2008)   to show whether low self-esteem was a predictor of depression or if depression predicts low self-esteem, two large longitudinal data sets were used and repeated four times. The findings were that depression did not predict low-self esteem and that low self-esteem was a predictor of depression. Therefore, it is shown that faulty thinking about one’s self image can result in depression.

Poor Living Environment Linked to Depression

           Poor living environments create added stressors that lead to depression in poor neighborhoods. In an article located in Current Directions in Psychological Science (2006),  a study is reviewed that finds that neighborhoods with unsafe conditions, poor housing, and little resources create added stressors which can lead to depression. The poverty that caused the individuals that were studied to live in these neighborhoods imposes added stress above and beyond a person’s natural stress levels. This intense negative environment increases the chances that an individual will become depressed.

Coping Skills & Depression

      Depressive thoughts can be learned socially from parents with bad problem solving skills. A cognitive behavior theorist, Dr. Aaron Beck (Cognitive Theories of Major Depression, 2007) suggests that depression is a result of distorted thoughts or judgments. He explains in his article, “Cognitive Theories of Major Depression,” that this thought pattern can be learned socially from the examples set forth by a child’s parents. This negative parenting example teaches children poor coping skills that lead to depression as a direct result of not properly understanding how to address problems in life.

Discussion

          During this debate, it has been shown through extensive research that the exact cause of depression is still unknown.  From the biological perspective, evidence shows that there is a link between genetics and a chemical imbalance in the brain to depression.  From the cognitive-behavioral perspective, it is shown that learned helplessness and environmental factors contribute to depression.  Depression is caused by faulty-thinking, which can result in a chemical imbalance in the brain.  In my research, it has been shown that negative outlooks, whether learned from parents or acquired from poor living environments, have a direct link to the occurrence of depression.

  

References

Orth, Ulrich; Robins, Richard W.; Roberts.  Low Self-Esteem Prospectively Predicts Depression in Adolescence and Young Adulthood.  Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Sept 2008, Vol. 95 Issue 3, p695-708, 24p. http://web.ebscohost.com.library.capella.edu/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=10&sid=2c0d92c5-f40f-47e0-aaeb-aa98db1efee9%40sessionmgr11&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=pdh&AN=psp-95-3-695

Cutrona, C. E., Wallace, G., & Wesner, K. A. (2006). Neighborhood characteristics and depression: An examination of stress processes. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(4), 188–192.

 

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Cognitive Theories of Major Depression. Updated: Sep 19th 2007   http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=13006&cn=5

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