I'll write out the causes of depression essay, to examplify how we go about getting AO2 and AO1 in together...
explanation of depression is the Abnormal Brain Structures
, which argues that depression is caused by abnormal brain functioning. Kumar
used MRI scans and compared 53 late onset depression patiens with 35 controls. The findings revealed that all depressed patients had reduced pre-frontal lobe volumes. Kumar's study provides valuable insights into abnormal brain structures causing depression, as does Sheline's
study, where 20 depressed patients were compared with a control group who were not depressed. Sheline's findings revealed that all 20 depressed patients had a reduction in the core nucleus of the Amygdala on both sides of the brain. They also had an abnormal blood flow in the amygdala.
AO2 I think(strengths)
: A strength of the abnormal brain structures explanation is that it is supported by research that provides valuable insights into the causes of depression. In both studies, the findings were absolute and therefore firmer conclusions can be made and this also makes the theory stronger. To add to this, the methods used by Kumar and Sheline have good scientific validity, as MRI scans are a well established, scientific, objective and quantifiable method of gathering information, which therefore helps to strengthen any conclusions made about depression and its causes.
AO2 again, but weaknesses:
However, both studies used small samples, such as Kumar's study where all patients were 60years old+ and therefore this raises problems with generalisation as the findings that support the abnormal brain structures theory may not be representative of the depressed population. Aldridge found that all depressed patients were either on medication or had previously taken anti-depressants, therefore cause and effect may not be possible, as the medication may have caused the structural abnormality rather than structural abnormality causing depression. In addition, the abnormal brain structure theory could be criticised for being biological reductionism as it ignored psychological and environmental factors and therefore could be considered to simplistic an explanation of the complex processed involved in depression. It also ignores the role of free will and individual control and choice in behaviours linked to depression therefore could be considered deterministic too, and so can't fully account for the cause of depression.
It should also be noted that various other studies have been conducted, such as Shaha's
where the findings were not absolute, therefore the findings of Sheline and Kumar could be purely due to chance.
: Another Physiological
explanation of depression is the Neurochemical theory
, which argues that depression is the result of faulty functioning of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and/or serotonin. Depression is said to be caused by low levels/an imbalance or serotonin or sensetivity of receptor sites.
AO1 again I think
Anti depressants have been found to increase noradrenaline and/or serotonin levels, and also relieve the symptoms of depression. SRRI's such as Prozac block the reuptake of serotonin and have been found to be an effective drug treatment of depression, which therefore implies that serotonin has a role in depression. The AO2 here kind of ties in with the AO1, I'm not sure if I'm doing it right, and also, I'm talking about the methods which I'm not sure I should be doing:
Scientific methods like PET scans have been used to support the Neurochemical theory, and help to provide quantitative data analysis which is clearly an advantage and provides valuable support for the theory. On the other hand, the findings are not absolute, because although Prozac does relieve the symptoms of depression, not everyone with low levels of serotoning and/or noradrenaline is depressed and not everyone that is depressed has low levels of these neurotransmitters, therefore cause and effect can not be concluded.
explanation of depression is the Psychodynamic explanation
which believes that depression is the result of anger turned inwards, and the event that triggers this is loss. Based on Freud's
ideas, the explanation argues that anger is turned inwards because an outward expression is not accepted by the superego, and this process operates at an unconscious level. Childhood experiences such as losses like death can make a person vulnerable and likely to end up depressed during adulthood.
AO2 strengths and weaknesses
The psychodynamic explanation of depression clearly provides a qualititative indepth analysis of the causes of depression as it uses methods such as longitudinal case studies. It is very informative as it can provide valuable information and therefore is not only an interesting alternative, but is also a very descriptive theory. not sure if this Roy study should have gone in the AO1 bit... Roy
found that children who have lost a parent during childhood are more vulnerable to depression as an adult, which supports the Psychodynamic theory. However, Lewishon
found no such relationship through a correlation. Also, the theory is non-falsifiable, which is an important criterion for it to be viewed as credible. This therefore lowers its credibility and noone could disprove such a vague and poorly specified theoretical problem. The evidence supporting the theory is based on retrospective reports and since research has demonstrated the imperfection of memory, this casts doubt on the validity of the explanation.
explanation of depression is the Cognitive theory
, which believed that depression is a disorder of thinking and it is not events, but the negative ways of thinking about these events that cause depression. Beck
uses the negative cognitive triad to explain depression, which is the maladaptive way people think about themselves, the world and their future. He argues that depressive schemas trigger the cognitive triad, which involves thoughts that reflect low self-esteem, uselessness and exaggerated misfortune.
AO2 first strengths of the explanation and beck's ideas then weaknesses
Beck's ideas can explain why some people get depressed and others do not. Since people interpret and think about their futures differenty, the model can account for individual differences in the vulnerability to depression, and as well as this has good face validity as it, quite simply, makes sense. However, it is arguably an abstract concept that is not open to scientific analysis. As well as this it has also been criticised for putting too much emphasis on internet mental processes, neglecting factors such as the environment and is therefore quite possibly reductionist. In addition, Gotlib
revealed that depressed people thing in a pessimistic and hopeless way, but when no longer depressed, their interpetations, expectations and beliefs reflect other non-depressed people. Therefore it may be that depression causes the negative thinking rather than the other way round and cause and effect is not strong.
Overall, although each explanation provides a valuable contribution towards the causes of depression, it is clear that more than one explanation may play a part at one time. It would be more beneficial to consider a multi-dimensional approach that takes into account more than one explanation, which would provide a more detailed understanding of the causes of depression.
That essay would probably only work if the question said 'Give at least one physiological explanation and at least one psychological explanation...' - If it asks for only one of each explanation then I'm a bit buggered because I won't have enough to write!