Abnormal Psychology and Major Depressive Disorder

Table of Content

This research aims to examine abnormal psychology, with a specific emphasis on psychopathology and the evaluation of various symptoms or behaviors that lead to functional limitations in an individual’s life. Numerous theories have been utilized over time to comprehend psychological disorders like Major Depressive Disorder and the underlying reasons for abnormal behavior. Additionally, this paper investigates the causes of depression, treatment approaches for Major Depression, proactive measures and recommendations, religious insights from the Bible, and perspectives from different cultures.

Behavioral models focus on learned occurrences associated with psychopathology, while cognitive models emphasize the influence of distorted thought patterns on a client’s mental state. It is essential for clinicians to understand how psychopathology progresses from infancy to adulthood in order to better comprehend its development. These perspectives also aid in understanding the different disorders listed in classification manuals like the DSM-IV. This article specifically addresses Abnormal Psychology and Major Depressive Disorder.

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According to the DSM-IV (2003), individuals with a major mood disorder, such as Unipolar Depressive, Bipolar Depression, or Symptoms of Mania, must experience a loss of interest or pleasure or a depressive mood in daily behaviors for at least two weeks or longer. This change in mood should be different from their usual mood and have negative effects on their education, work, social life, or other important functions.

Depression can resemble the feelings of grief that occur after losing a loved one. Substance abuse (including medications, alcohol, drugs) or a medical condition that doesn’t meet the criteria for major depressive disorder can also cause depressive moods.

If symptoms persist for more than two months and are accompanied by noticeable impairments like feeling worthless all the time, psychotic symptoms, slowed physical movements, or suicidal thoughts; then it is considered to be separate from normal bereavement or may have additional significant symptoms (APA 2003).

During the past thirty years, clinicians have made significant progress in comprehending and applying cognitive therapy and theory to effectively treat depression. Once referred to as melancholia, depression is now widely recognized as a prominent clinical depressive disorder with a long-standing historical background dating back to classical times.

Numerous biographers have discussed how cognitive therapy (CT) can be refined and modified to provide a more meaningful understanding of dysfunctional roles. Additionally, it follows a logical course in its connection to depression (Carolina, Peter, Stephen, 2007). The concept of stress dates back to Hippocrates, who believed that the struggle (ponos) and suffering associated with disease (pathos) represented the body’s efforts to restore itself to a healthy state (Girdlera & Klatzkinb, 2007).

The 17th-century English scholar Robert Burton wrote a book called “The Anatomy of Melancholy,” which drew on his own experiences and various theories. One theory put forth by Burton was that sufficient sleep, music, a healthy diet, “consequential work,” and a balanced social life with friends and family could prevent melancholy. Additionally, in the 18th century, there was a theory of melancholia linked to a Major.

Depressive Disorder has increasingly been explained in terms of electricity and mechanics. If someone displays a gloomy and dark frame of mind, it has been proven that they also experience a decrease in energy levels (Girdlera & Klatzkinb, 2007). The term “depression” originates from the Latin verb deprimere, which means “to press down.” Dating back to the 14th century, the term “to depress” referred to lowering one’s spirits or conquering (AllDisease.org, 2011).

By the end of the century, depression became increasingly prevalent and eventually became synonymous with melancholia in the medical field. In the DSM-I (1952) and DSM-II (1968), depressive reaction and depressive neurosis were defined as intense reactions to conflict or internal circumstances. Girdlera & Klatzkinb (2007) referenced these terms. Moreover, this period saw the emergence of causes for depression.

Depression can be caused by a range of factors, including psychological, social, and biological aspects. Some experts argue that both past and present stressors can contribute to depression. The debate between nature versus nurture, the societal environment in the Western world, and an individual’s genetic makeup can also impact depression. The occurrence of depression may vary depending on an individual’s unique genetic structure. Additionally, substance use, such as alcohol, drugs, and street narcotics, can also be a factor in the development of major depression.

According to the BIC (1985), depression can occur as a result of an increase or activation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis caused by stress. Cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone, helps with adrenal hormone functionality and maintaining homeostasis, thus playing a role in depression. Wilson (2010) asserts that cortisol controls and affects different physiological changes that happen due to stress.

The most severe reaction of this disorder can be caused by an increase in the pituitary glands, impacting the endocrine system. It is connected to one’s biological clock and individuals experiencing depression will undergo mood changes when they lack sleep. Additionally, regions with minimal sunlight due to seasonal changes have been linked to depression, further complicating sleep. This chronic issue is commonly referred to as insomnia.

Wilson (2010) states that light therapy and sleep deprivation have similar effects on depression as anti-depressant drugs. Additionally, there is a link between reduced nerves in certain brain regions and symptoms of depression such as memory loss and mood changes. According to Comer’s Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology (2011), approximately one-third of individuals with Unipolar depression do not see any improvement from interventions for Major Depression.

Recent advancements in biological methods for treating depression, including vagus nerve stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and deep brain stimulations (p. 204), have been observed. However, scientific research provides reassurances that medications, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy are commonly used treatments for addressing depression. Psychotherapy is found to be the most effective therapy, especially for adolescents and children. Conversely, electroconvulsive treatments are usually reserved for adults and lack widespread popularity.

Vagus nerve stimulation involves using an implanted pulse generator apparatus to improve brain function and relieve depressive symptoms. This medical procedure transmits electrical impulses to the brain by placing a wire under the skin, connecting it to the pulse initiator in the left vagus nerve of the neck. These electrical signals stimulate mood receptors, which could potentially worsen depression symptoms.

In the field of neuropsychiatry, there is an increasing interest in utilizing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS) as therapeutic choices for neurological disorders. TMS administers pulsed magnetic signals to the brain, which can either inhibit or stimulate specific regions, possibly resulting in visual scotomas or phosphenes. On the other hand, DBS employs small electrical signals to stimulate the brain and has demonstrated potential in assisting individuals with managing symptoms related to certain health conditions; however, it does not offer a universal solution (AllDisease.org, 2011).

Preventive Strategies and Tips for Depression

The most effective preventive strategies for depression treatment involve Solution and Interpersonal Focus, along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Cognitive Restructuring or CBT). While a chemical imbalance in the brain may make it impossible to prevent depression in all cases, therapy may be more beneficial than antidepressants for many people with depression.

Some people choose to take a holistic approach to address depression by using natural remedies. An option is to gain knowledge about the signs and symptoms of depression, which can aid in lessening its impact. Additionally, integrating healthy habits into daily schedules can be beneficial for preventing or decreasing depression. These habits may involve participating in physical activity, making time for leisure and relaxation, avoiding excessive workloads, relieving anxieties and fears through prayer and meditation, adopting nutritious eating habits, engaging in social activities, and finding satisfaction in one’s chosen career.

Natural Remedies for Depression (2010) suggests several ways to prevent depressive moods, such as psychotherapy. Psychotherapy assists individuals in managing the stresses that cause or activate depression. It not only alleviates the discomfort of depressive symptoms but also has the potential to modify brain chemistry and thoughts, especially those that are intense or persistent. Moreover, multiple research studies have discovered that meditation offers diverse health advantages, including enhancing mood and reducing stress and anxiety.

According to Natural Remedies for Depression (2010), meditation is advantageous for individuals with depression as it fosters peace and tranquility while also enabling them to release recurring negative thoughts. Conversely, Cross Cultural Healthcare encompasses addressing obstacles like cultural and language barriers that hinder the formation of perspectives. Marsella (2003) asserts that depressive disorder has emerged as a significant worldwide health and societal concern in recent times.

According to Marsella (2003), multiple factors contribute to the worsening and neglect of depressive disorders. These factors include psychological elements like loss of meaning, identity confusion and conflict, powerlessness, and learned helplessness. Biological aspects such as chronic diseases, toxin exposure, longevity, medications, and malnutrition also play a part. Additionally, environmental and social cultural factors like displacements caused by natural disasters and war, urbanization, rapid social changes, conflicts in role confusion, sexism and racism, and cultural collapse are connected to the development of depressive disorders.

Due to the global risks and burdens associated with depressive experiences and disorders, professionals and researchers have recognized the need to increase awareness of complex issues related to these problems. The DSM-IV (2003) includes a comprehensive list of culturally-bound disorders (such as koro, susto, and latah) and emphasizes the importance of considering them.

Although it does not provide specific procedures for assessing and diagnosing cultural-bound disorders, the DSM-IV categories used by diagnosticians can pose risks for individuals outside the Western hemisphere (2003). Cultural influences can create communication barriers when diagnosing depression symptoms. To reduce misdiagnosis or under-diagnosis, it is important to be knowledgeable about and educated in different cultures and ethnicities, especially when evaluating the criteria for Major Depression Episodes.

Different cultures have different understandings of depression, seeing it as a condition that can manifest physically through symptoms such as feelings of guilt or sadness. However, from a biblical perspective on humanity, it is important to recognize that all people are susceptible to various illnesses regardless of their location or the time period they live in. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as more than just the absence of disease or infirmity; it encompasses overall well-being including physical, mental, and social aspects. According to this biblical standard, true health can only be attained in the Garden of Eden or heaven among fellow believers. Despite advancements in scientific and medical technology influenced by the consequences of the fall, various disorders will persist until death or Christ’s return for his followers. Therefore, while commendable, the WHO’s definition cannot be fully achieved on Earth. Furthermore, there are instances where contemporary medical science and the Bible hold differing viewpoints.

The Bible incorporates scientific research alongside biblical discernment because God oversees both the physical and spiritual realms. Additionally, the Bible contains numerous references to depression, a widely experienced affliction. It is unsurprising that depression was discovered in the first human beings, Adam and Eve, after the Fall. Christianity is often disregarded rather than actively opposed. The intellectual atmosphere on many secular campuses is not explicitly against Christianity but rather built upon an unscriptural worldview.

That worldview generates beliefs, presumptions, and customs about existence, one’s principles, society, and incorrect declarations of truth that contradict Biblical knowledge. The consequence of this resistance indeed subverts the word of God and His capability to revive one’s faith and well-being, as indicated in Jeremiah 30:17, “For I will restore health to you And heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD, ‘Because they called you an outcast saying” (NIV 2008). In conclusion, this study will enhance the reader’s comprehension of certain significant depressive disorders.

Abnormal behaviour, in the context of psychological disorders or contextual factors like Major Depressive Disorder, is a sensitive term. However, it has been recognized cross-culturally and for many decades. Abnormal psychology, or psychopathology, deals with various forms of behaviour issues and symptoms that can significantly impact people’s lives. These issues may be genetically pre-disposed or triggered by stressors and significant life circumstances. This paper examines the symptoms defining psychological disorders and mental illnesses throughout history. It is important to understand the causes of abnormal behaviour, particularly regarding depression and how it has been misunderstood or viewed through different perspectives. Furthermore, there is still much advancement needed in studying and researching depression. Ultimately, this is what makes the study and research of abnormal psychology fascinating.


AllDisease.org (2011) explores the origins of depression and its development. The article, titled “How Depression got originated?” seeks to provide insights into the beginning of this mental illness. The source of this information is anonymous and the specific date of retrieval is unknown. The American Psychiatric Association (2003) is another resource mentioned in the text.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision: DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.. ISBN 0890420254. Burton, R. (2010). The Anatomy of Melancholy. N.p. : Project Lutenburg., eBook. Retrieved Date __, 20__, from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10800 Carolina, M., Peter, F., & Stephen, S.R. (2007). Major Depressive Disorder and Cognitive Schemas. Washington, WA: American Psychological Association.

Comer, R. J. (2011). Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology (6th ed., pp.193-213). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Girdlera, S. S., & Klatzkinb, R. (2007). Neurosteroids in the context of stress: Implications for depressive disorders (ed., Vol.16, pp.125-139). Chapel Hill, NC: Department of Psychiatry.
National Institute of Mental Health. (1989). Plan Talk about Depression. Rockville, MD: U. S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Natural Remedies for Depression: Alternative Treatments to Antidepressants. (2010). N.p.: Depression-help-resource.com. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from http://www.epression-help-resource.com/natural-remedies-for-depression.htm
Marsella, A. J. (2003). (e.g., Bebbington, 1993; DesJarlais, Eisenberg, Good, & Kleinman, 1995). Cultural Aspects of Depressive Experience and Disorders. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 9, Chapter 4). ©International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology.
NIV (2008), (NIV ed.) AL: Zondervan. Live Application Study Bible, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
Schwartz, A., & Schwartz, R. (1993). Depression: Theories & Treatments. New York: Columbia University Press.
The Biblical and Christian W. (2007). Worldview in Medicine: Choosing Life and Health or Disease and Death. Covenant Enterprises: The Biblical and Christian Worldview. Retrieved Date __, 20__, from http://www.biblicalworldview21.org/Medicine/Brief_Worldview_Medicine.asp
Wilson, D. (2010). The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. N.p.: Mind Mine.The retrieval dates for the webpages from the World Health Organization (WHO) and adrenal fatigue website (www.adrenalfatigue.org) are not provided. The link for the WHO mission statement is http://www.who.int/bulletin/mission_statement/en/index.html, while the link for the adrenal function and cortisol information is http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/cortisol-and-adrenal-function.html.

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