Psychology of Depression


Depression can often be misunderstood. That’s not surprising considering how rarely people talk about it. But…that’s ironic because “depressive disorders”, as they’re formally called, are extremely common. Approximately 1 out of every 20 people worldwide experiences some sort of diagnosable depression. If you don’t personally have depression, you undoubtedly have had contact with someone who does. It could be a family member Or a friend A coworker Or your favorite actor? Everyone experiences sadness from time to time. But just because someone is sad, doesn’t mean that they have a disorder. So when does it tip the scales? When do we call something “depression”, exactly? Well, the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual, which is the tool that mental health professionals use to diagnose, defines Major Depressive Disorder as this. We’re usually referring to Major Depressive Disorder when we think about depression, but there are other diagnoses. In general, they all have features of sadness and emptiness, as well as physical and cognitive symptoms that affect the person’s capacity to function for at least a two week period. But what causes depression? Well, Alie talked all about the genetics of depression and what depression does to your brain and I strongly suggest you check out that video right here. I’ll link to it at the end if you want to check it out. Psychologists, unlike neuroscientists, place a lot of focus on cognitive and social factors that may play a role in depression. For example, how a person thinks can say a
lot. In particular, there are a couple of questions that can indicate whether someone is susceptible to depression. First, how do they view themselves or others? And second, do they cope with problems or avoid them? Let’s say you have negative expectations about your ability to cope with problems. Or maybe you think others are purposefully imposing problems on you. At any point in your life, if you have repeated failures trying to solve problem, you’re more likely to feel hopeless, helpless, or abandon your usual ways of solving problems. These factors are all predictive of depression. Or let’s say you run into an issue. What do you do? If you’re the kind of person who wants to fix it right away or you use your active coping skills like reaching out to others for help or using meditation to calm down, congratulations! You are less likely to become depressed than someone who uses passive coping skills, such as distraction or avoidance. Life stressors can also make you susceptible to depression. In fact, most people report a severe life event or difficulty in the 6 months leading up to the onset of their depression. Now, not everyone who faces difficult problems becomes depressed, but prolonged exposure to stressors can preempt a depressive episode. This is particularly true for people who do not have strong social supports like family, friends, or a community to help them. If you don’t have that external support, then you only have your internal coping skills to rely on. Now, if you’re feeling depressed just hearing about all this, don’t fret! There is hope. Depression can be treated! Like so many disorders, prevailing research says that the combination of medication and therapy is the most effective way to treat depression. Different studies have looked at medication and therapy independently of each other to see which one works better. And they found that they’re more or less equally effective at treating symptoms. Although therapy has longer-lasting effects after completing treatment compared to medication. Alie talked about medication for depression in the last video and I’m gonna suggest once again that you go check that out. Personally, I think that while medication does a good at treating the symptoms, therapy can do a good job at addressing the underlying cause of depression. What led them to feel that persistent and ongoing feeling of sadness and loneliness? The two most commonly used therapies for depression are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT, takes a two-pronged approach to address how you think and how you act. On the cognitive side, it specifically addresses negativistic thinking. This is depression’s best friend. It’s essentially a takeover of your thoughts that is overly pessimistic and critical. A person who engages in negativistic thinking expects failure and disappointment at every turn and focuses on past failures as a way to confirm that belief. It is so common for these two things to go together, that a lot of people wonder, What comes first? Does depression cause negativistic thinking? Or does negativistic thinking cause depression? Well, research indicates that pessimistic
thinkers and optimistic thinkers are both at risk of depression after exposure to stressful
life events, so it seems like negativistic thinking is
probably the result of depression, not the other way around. CBT tries to challenge and modify these thoughts. And by changing the thoughts, it relieves the symptoms. And on the behavioral side, clients are encouraged to engage in pleasant activities to treat the numb and anhedonic symptoms they may feel. About 1 in 3 people find that CBT alone helps them with their depression. Interpersonal Psychotherapy, or IPT, on the other hand, is a therapy that was specifically developed for Major Depressive
Disorder. It theorizes that how we interact with others affects our mood. As such, by helping a depressed person improve their relationships and interactions in social situations, it relieves the distress they may feel. Depression can often be sustained or preempted by interpersonal problems. For example, social isolation, unresolved grief or loss, life transitions, and disputes with family, friends, or coworkers can all be part of that. Unlike CBT, IPT does not examine internal conflicts or personality traits. And the therapist doesn’t even really address depressive symptoms directly. Instead, they focuses on relationship patterns and improving them to improve the person’s overall satisfaction, incidentally relieving depressive symptoms. These aren’t the only two therapies that are effective, though they are currently the two most supported by evidence. There are other therapies that have shown some effectiveness in treating depression symptoms, including Social Skill Training, Behavioral Activation, and Psychodynamic Therapy. I’ll talk more about these theories in future videos. And finally, because my friend mentioned it the other day, there is some preliminary evidence that controlled sleep deprivation may reduce depression symptoms. Though we’re not exactly sure why yet. Thanks Brandon. None of these may be the right form of therapy for you. But there is a wide range of therapies that can help just about anyone. If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, please don’t
wait. And reach out for help and seek treatment. I’ve placed resources in the description below for more information about depression and finding treatment. Remember, you are not alone and things can get better. Thanks for watching this episode of Micah
Psych on Neuro Transmissions. If you learned something new about depression, then hit the thumbs up button. And subscribe if you want to be the first to see our new videos as they come out. If you really want to help us out, then head on over to Patreon and throw a few dollars our way. It really goes a long way and we’re so grateful to all of our Patrons, particularly Carrie McKenzie, Ryan Shaver, and Raymond Chin. You guys rock. Until next time, I’m Micah. Think about it.

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Comments

  1. The soundscape in this video is really really busy; it sounds like the music is fighting rhythmically with the prosody of your speech. Background music with a distorted synth combined with the room sound in the microphone (might want to look at getting some acoustic foam) also make it quite jarring.

    If you listen to most videos with background music, it's something not as busy (longer beats, no staccato-chords) and has a more vague rhythm (no steady eighths, but something dynamic like a solo piano jazz piece). Distortion in the synth is also something that calls a lot of attention to itself.

  2. Wow, the sleep deprivation thing is interesting. When more studies have been done, that could be a great video in itself. Nice work Micah! 🙂

  3. From the 6:28 point forward there`s an odd effect on the background from the lamp. Might want to check if it is on the original recording too and if it can be avoided.

    But still: thanks for the video!

  4. NOTE: First, sorry about the levels. I was using my headphones and apparently the background music is way too high. Second, there’s a weird flickering on the lamp at the end. It seems like the camera is trying to focus and can’t make up its mind. Anyway, hopefully that doesn’t detract from the viewing experience too much! Let me know what you think!

  5. Personally I really liked the background noise, it didn't cause that much of a problem and kept me focused on what you were saying, that's just me though.

  6. When you never recognised depression. Because you thought you finally were normal, cause you were in some form of therapy at the moment.
    Also.during a diagnosis period, but like rigging it because you didn't want to say how miserable your life was. Cause you wanted to be normal. (ADHD diagnosis was quite stressful and self hateful for 8 year old me….)
    I had a period of my life where I didn't want to go to school. Like my mom had to literally drag me.
    Another one where i cried in the toilets during class like easily twice a day.
    Where I wanted to kill myself.
    One where I maybe would have. But I was to young, and didn't know yet that suicide was an actual thing people did.

    But I am fine now. I have depressive episodes. Especially when something a bit stressful happens. But I learned to deal with it.
    After all those behavioural things, self acceptance and understanding things. Which I did multiple of.
    Also physiotherapy, cause of my awfull motor skills. I got from granddad. Literally If I didn't do that as a 3 year old. I would not be able to catch something.
    My parents stopped forcing me to do those things.
    3 years later. It just stopped, gradually became happier and realised that my experience actually wasn't normal.
    That the only reason people don't cut themselves is that they don't know where to. Because nobody can find out.

    The episodes of it I get when there goes something wrong. I get physically sick, and really need to force myself to do something I need to do. I'm super scared of consequences. Because I know I am unable to fix it.
    Also a reason I then do go to school. Or I do go to the gym. Is because the trigger was at home
    I have been in school crying with my friends. Not saying what was wrong.
    But also just alone. Because they didn't notice me. Or thought I was just studying.
    Talking to someone.usually helps the thought loop. But not about it. That makes it worse.
    And when the conversation ends. It all comes back.

  7. is bottom up approach as coping system categorised in psychology as an active way of solving problems or is it exclusively only by asking others for help or meditation?

  8. I want to say to anyone that your are most definitely Not alone, there is people always out there that won't hesitate to help us, you just need to have faith in something or someone wither God or other belief, you can find a stable state of happiness and not give everything away due to depression

  9. You are not alone is a phrase for those who come from developed countries and have background to fight it. My depression has come to the point of anger. Why there are no tips for depression of people that hot tired of hard life? Why there are no tips for those underdogs like me brought to better country by parent but still unable to have a normal life? 28 years I live are wasted. Psychologists should give tips how to accept impossibilities of marginalised people like me with less pain and harm, how to accept reality. And I see nothing about this on internet. And I have no money and no insurance to get a right help. Don't forget my case when you talk about depression. How should I fight it? Can you tell me?

  10. I'm in CBT again. In the past it helped and I went 2-3 years in remission, but it came back. Why does depression return frequently?

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