THE COGNITIVE ETIOLOGY OF MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER - Coggle Diagram
THE COGNITIVE ETIOLOGY OF MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
*etiology means understanding the explanation of having depression.
*when looking at it from the cognitive approach, there are theories developed to explain depression. these theories look at the thought process of those who are predisposed to depression
*a theoretical assumption: the patterns of information processing (how an individual interprets various life events) influence the development of the disorder.
The 3 Mechanisms believed to be responsible for depression by Beck (1967):
Negative Self Schemas
: A set of beliefs and expectations about themselves that are essentially negative and pessimistic.
Beck claimed that negative schemas may be acquired in childhood as a result of a traumatic event. Experiences that might contribute to negative schemas include:
Death of a parent or sibling
Parental rejection, criticism, overprotection, neglect or abuse.
Bullying at school or exclusion from a peer group.
IMPT: However, negative self-schemas predisposes the individual to depression, and therefore someone who has acquired a cognitive triad will not necessarily develop depression.
Once the negative schemas are activated, a number of illogical thoughts or cognitive biases seem to dominate thinking.
Errors in Logic
People with negative self schemas become prone to making logical errors in their thinking and they tend to focus selectively on certain aspects of a situation while ignoring equally relevant information.
Beck (1967) identified a number of systematic negative bias' in information processing known as logical errors or faulty thinking.
The 5 Logical Errors by Beck (1967):
Drawing a negative conclusion in the absence of supporting data.
Focusing on the worst aspects of any situation.
Magnification and Minimisation:
If they have a problem they make it appear bigger than it is. If they have a solution they make it smaller.
Negative events are interpreted as their fault.
Everything is seen as black and white. There is no in between.
Such thoughts exacerbate, and are exacerbated by the
The Cognitive Triad
: the three forms of negative automatic thinking that are typical of individuals with depression
- ex. depressed individuals tend to view themselves as helpless, worthless, and inadequate.
- ex. They interpret events in the world in a unrealistically negative and defeatist way, and they see the world as posing obstacles that can’t be handled.
- ex. they see the future as totally hopeless because their worthlessness will prevent their situation improving.
As these three components interact, they interfere with normal cognitive processing, leading to impairments in perception, memory and problem solving with the person becoming obsessed with negative thoughts.
Remember: These thoughts tend to be automatic and spontaneous
The Case Studies
Alloy et el. (1999)
Paid close attention to the thinking styles of young americans in their early 20’s for 6 years. Their thinking styles were tested and categorized into:
The ‘positive thinking group’
After 6 years the researchers of observing both groups: only 1% of the positive group developed depression compared to 17% of the ‘negative’ group.
These results indicate there may be a link between cognitive style and development of depression.
This study is prone to demand characteristics and the results are correlational.
the precise role of cognitive processes is yet to be determined.
The maladaptive cognitions seen in depressed people may be a consequence rather than a cause of depression.
The ‘negative thinking group’.
Martin Seligman (1974)
Proposed the Learned Helplessness theory
: states that depression occurs when a person learns that their attempts to escape negative situations make no difference / they give up trying to influence their environment because they believe they are 'helpless'
As a consequence, they become passive (meaning they do not want to put anymore effort) and will endure aversive stimuli/environments (hardship) even if there is an opportunity to escape or change it, they will not take that opportunity. They believe they have no control over what happens to them.
CON: Seligman’s account fails to take into account the role of cognitions (thoughts) influencing and explaining depression
this theory is based on research using dogs:
1.A dog put into a partitioned cage learns to escape when the floor is electrified. 2. If the dog is restrained whilst being shocked it eventually stops trying to escape. 3. Dogs subjected to inescapable electric shocks later failed to escape from shocks even when it was possible to do so.
They exhibited some symptoms of depression found in humans (like lethargy, sluggishness, passive in the face of stress, and appetite loss)
Abramson, Seligman, and Teasdale (1978)
Since the learned helplessness theory did not take into account cognitions, they reformulated it into terms of attributional processes (i.e. how people explain the cause of an event.
The new version:
The Depression Attributional Style
based on three
whether the cause is stable and permanent or unstable and transient
: whether the cause relates to the 'whole' person or just some particular feature characteristic
whether the cause is internal - to do with a person themselves, or external - to do with some aspect of the situation
In this new version of the theory, the mere presence of a negative event was not considered sufficient to produce a helpless or depressive state.
Instead, Abramson et al. argued that people who attribute failure to internal, stable, and global causes are more likely to become depressed than those who attribute failure to external, unstable and specific causes.
This is because the former attributional style (external, unstable and specific) leads people to the conclusion that they are unable to change things for the better.
Example: Someone stole your cell phone
external: you were in a notoriously unsafe environment
unstable: you were randomly chosen for the theft
specific: it happened during a Christmas rush sale
Joiner et al (1996)
: Patterns of cognition alone are not enough to lead to depression, they must also be in response to environmental stimuli.
: Rumination appears to more consistently predict the onset of depression rather than the duration, but rumination in combination with negative cognitive styles can predict the duration of depressive symptoms.
Farb et al (2011):
Relapsing patients showed more activity in a frontal region of the brain, known as the medial prefrontal gyrus. These responses were also linked to higher rumination.