On Mood Swings: The Psychobiology of Elation and Depression

On Mood Swings: The Psychobiology of Elation and Depression

On Mood Swings: The Psychobiology of Elation and Depression

On Mood Swings: The Psychobiology of Elation and Depression

Excerpt

As our century draws to a close, many advances have been made in the fields of medicine and psychology. However, with respect to the question, what causes people to become depressed, we still have at least four competing schools of thought. The remedies advocated vary accordingly.

Biopsychiatry claims that depression essentially reflects some biochemical disturbance in the brain. Andreason (1982), one of the leading proponents of this approach, concedes that sometimes episodes of illness are triggered by unfortunate life events; but she goes on to say the basic causes lie in the biology of what she calls The Broken Brain. Consequently, the best way to treat these abnormalities in brain function is through somatic therapies.

Cognitive therapists, on the other hand, argue that depression is due to some distortion in thinking. Depressed people tend to concentrate on the worst aspects of themselves, their world, their circumstances, and their future. Their software is skewed in the direction of pessimism and self-blame. Treatment, which for some practitioners includes hypnosis, involves restructuring the patients' "faulty" thinking and perceiving, and showing them how to make a more accurate assessment of their lives.

Psychoanalysis focuses on childhood events, fantasies, and feelings, and their respective impact on the vicissitudes of . . .

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