Analysis Of The Symptoms Of Depression From The Four Levels Of Explanation Of Behavior

The person level describes the individual personality traits associated with a person. As such, researchers suggest that people with certain personality traits are more susceptible to experience symptoms of depression. In particular, those who display perfectionistic characteristics, in which one always strives for flawlessness in every aspect of their life and is often highly self-critical when they do not meet their own highly unrealistic performance standards are likely to experience symptoms associated with depression. This could include piercing feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness and failure. For example, a straight A-student who receives a B on an exam may chide themselves for being a failure. This may increase the probability of one developing low self-esteem and destructive negative self-talk, other symptoms of depression. Furthermore, a loss of pleasure and interest in hobbies or activities that were once previously enjoyed may result for those who are extremely introverted, sensitive to personal criticism or are highly neurotic.

The biological level is the chemical and hormonal processes occurring in our body that can affect behavior. While depressed people may for example drink excessive amounts of alcohol and/or abuse drugs to lift their mood and escape from feelings of despair and guilt, individuals may also suffer from a range of symptoms including insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep.[footnoteRef:4] Another sign of clinical depression is sleeping too much or oversleeping. As such, when sleep is disturbed, it can lead to increased tension, vigilance, irritability and fatigue,[footnoteRef:5] thereby resulting in various mood-related depressive symptoms. Moreover, according to Gary Kennedy, Director of Genetic Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Centre in Bronx, “loss of appetite or a sudden change in weight can be an early sign of depression.” Thus, Kennedy suggests that this “may be especially true for people who may lose interest in cooking and don’t have the energy to prepare meals.” Depression can also result in emotional eating according to Debra J. Johnston, a culinary services manager at an eating disorder treatment center in Wickenburg, Ariz. She states that when “people eat in response to emotional hunger, they are soothed by the food as it changes the chemical balance in the brain, producing a feeling of fullness that is more comfortable than an empty stomach.”

The basic processes level is the psychological processes that are widespread across humans such as one’s thoughts, emotions, memory and thinking. Depressed people may experience recurring thoughts of death and suicide or engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting or intentional overdose. This is because when sufferers not only view themselves as worthless, but also perceive the world as full of obstacles, this causes normal cognitive possessing to become impaired, resulting in continuous negative and pessimistic thought patterns. Likewise, the inability to think clearly and focus on daily tasks is another symptom of depression, as it becomes extremely challenging to make even small decisions. For example, one may find it challenging to follow the plot of a novel or TV show. Equally, one may have trouble remembering complex instructions.

The socio-cultural level is the influence other people and culture exert on behavior. Due to lack of energy, it is common for sufferers of depression to suddenly isolate themselves from society to avoid feeling insecure and out of place. As such, receiving social support from family, friends and other groups of people is a strong protective factor that prevents depression sufferers from suddenly withdrawing from social events or crowded places.

Discuss the development of understanding of mental health issues. This may include describing the changes seen in treatment as our understanding of mental health has changed over time.

Our understanding of mental health issues has changed drastically over time. For instance, in the Stone Age, the cause of abnormal behavior was believed to be due to evil spirits and witchcraft. Hence, treatment included trepanning to bore holes into people’s heads to release the evil spirits. Furthermore, during the Middle Ages, many cultures viewed mental illness as a form of demonic possession and as a problem of the body rather than a punishment sent by the Gods. This resulted in exorcism, torture, imprisonment and execution as treatment by creating physical discomfort in the body to consequently force the Devil out.

By the 15-16th century, many came to the conclusion that isolation and institutionalization was the correct solution to treating people considered to be "mad" and/or “insane.” These institutions were places where people with mental disorders could be located, allegedly for treatment, but also often to remove them from the view of their families and communities. Around the same time, the “Medical Model” also developed to cure sickness of the mind. Based on this model, mental “illness” began to be viewed as a disorder that required treatment not only through the use of safe hospital asylums, but also through prescription of psychotic medications. As a result, by the 20th century, the profession of “psychiatry” was founded, in which medical specialists began dealing with the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of mental illness. As society has progressively learnt about the causes and pathology of various mental health illnesses, effective and safe treatments have been developed in exchange for the dangerous, out-dated practices described above. In particular, those currently experiencing mental disorders can benefit from treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, anti-depressants, exercise and/or mindfulness mediation, all of which have become increasingly important tools in mainstream psychiatric and psychological care in the 21st century.

03 December 2019
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