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Depression By Cognitive Perspective Essay, Research Paper

As it is well known, most people experience some kind of depression in their lives. Depression sometimes makes our lives unbearable and, we need treatment. We need the help of psychologist?s. With the help of them, we try to learn the reasons of our depression and we acquire the explanations to find out possible and necessary treatments. In psychology, there are different schools to consult. In this paper, depression is explained by the help of Cognitive Theory.


Depression is a mental illness in which a person experiences deep, stable sadness and discontinued interest in nearly all activities. People also use the term depression to describe the temporary sadness, loneliness, or blues that everyone feels from time to time. In contrast to normal sadness, severe depression, also called major depression, can dramatically lessen a person?s ability to function in social situations and at work. People with major depression often have feelings of despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness, as well as thoughts of committing suicide.

Depression can take several other forms. In bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic-depressive illness, a person?s mood swings back and forth between depression and mania. People with seasonal affective disorder typically suffer from depression only during autumn and winter, when there are fewer hours of daylight. In dysthymia , people feel depressed, have low self-esteem, and concentrate poorly most of the time?often for a period of years?but their symptoms are milder than in major depression. Some people with dysthymia experience occasional episodes of major depression. Mental health professionals use the term clinical depression to refer to any of the above forms of depression.


Depression affects all people, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic standing. However, the percentage of women having the illness more likely than men . Experts disagree on the reason for this difference. Some cite differences in hormones, and others point to the stress caused by society?s expectations of women.

Depression occurs in all parts of the world, although the pattern of symptoms can vary. The prevalence of depression in other countries varies widely, from 1.5 percent of people in Taiwan to 19 percent of people in Lebanon. Some researchers believe methods of gathering data on depression account for different rates.

A number of large-scale studies indicate that depression rates have increased worldwide over the past several decades. Furthermore, younger generations are experiencing depression at an earlier age than did previous generations. Social scientists have proposed many explanations, including changes in family structure, urbanization, and reduced cultural and religious influences.


Although depression may be seen anytime from childhood to old age, depression usually begins in a person?s 20s or 30s. The illness may start slowly, then increase gradually over months or years. On the other hand, it may finish suddenly in a few weeks or days. A person who develops severe depression may be seen so confused, frightened, and unbalanced that observers speak of a “nervous breakdown.” When it begins, depression causes serious changes in a person?s feelings and outlook. A person with major depression feels sad nearly every day and may cry often. People no longer get pleasure from their work and activities.

Symptoms of depression can change by age. In younger children, depression may include physical complaints, such as stomachaches and headaches, as well as irritability, social withdrawal, and changes in eating habits. They may feel indifferent about school and other activities. In adolescents, common symptoms include sad mood, sleep disturbances, and lack of energy. Elderly people with depression usually complain about physical rather than emotional problems, which sometimes causes doctors to misdiagnose the illness.

Symptoms of depression can also change by culture. In some cultures, depressed people may not experience sadness or guilt but may complain about physical problems. In Mediterranean cultures, for example, depressed people may complain about headaches or nerves. In Asian cultures they may complain about weakness, fatigue, or imbalance.

If the illness is not treated, an episode of major depression typically lasts eight or nine months. Most of people who experience one bout of depression will experience future episodes.

Depression usually changes a person?s appetite, sometimes increasing it, but usually reducing it. Sleep habits often change, too . People with depression may oversleep or, more commonly, sleep for fewer hours. A depressed person might go to sleep at midnight, sleep restlessly, then wake up at 5 AM feeling tired and blue. For many depressed people, early morning is the saddest time of the day.

Depression also changes one?s energy level. Some depressed people may be restless and nervous, engaging in sensitive movements . Others may feel lazy and inactive, experiencing great fatigue, lack of energy, and a feeling of carrying a heavy burden. Depressed people may also have difficulty thinking, poor concentration, and problems with memory.

People with depression often experience feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, guilt, and self-blame. They may interpret a minor failing on their part as a sign of incompetence or interpret minor criticism as condemnation. Some depressed people complain about being spiritually or morally dead. The mirror seems to reflect someone ugly and repulsive. Even a competent and decent person may feel deficient, cruel, stupid, false, or guilty of having deceived others. People with major depression may experience such extreme emotional pain that they consider or attempt suicide. At least 15 percent of seriously depressed people commit suicide, and many more attempt it.

In some cases, people with depression may experience psychotic symptoms, such as delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (false sensory perceptions). Psychotic symptoms indicate an especially severe illness. By comparing to other depressed people, those with psychotic symptoms have longer hospital stays, and after leaving, they are more likely to be moody and unhappy. They are also more likely to commit suicide.


Some depressions seem to come unexpected, even when things are going well. Others seem to have an obvious cause: a marital conflict, financial difficulty, or some personal failure. Yet many people with these problems do not become deeply depressed. Most psychologists believe depression results from an interaction between stressful life events and person?s psychological vulnerabilities.

Cognitive theories of depression emphasize the role of irrational thought processes. American psychiatrist Aaron Beck proposed that depressed people tend to view themselves, their environment, and the future in a negative light because of errors in thinking. These errors include focusing on the negative aspects of any situation, misinterpreting facts in negative ways, and blaming themselves for any misfortune. In Beck?s view, people learn these negative ways of looking at the world during early childhood. To Beck, depressed persons acquire this view through loss of a loved one, the social rejection of their friends, the abusive rearing style of their parents, and the defeating criticisms of their teachers. This negative thinking makes situations much worse than they really are and increases the risk of depression, especially in stressful situations. Thus, such persons expect frequent fails, often blame themselves about these fails and feel worthless.

In support of this cognitive view, people with “depressive” personality traits appear to be more vulnerable than others to actual depression. Examples of depressive personality traits include gloominess, pessimism, introversion, self-criticism, excessive skepticism and criticism of others, deep feelings of inadequacy, and excessive serious and worrying. In addition, people who regularly behave in dependent, hostile, and impulsive ways appear at greater risk for depression.

To some cognitive perspectives, depression is caused by “learned helplessness,” an learned belief that one cannot control the outcome of events. In this view, long-time exposure to uncontrollable and inescapable events leads to apathy, pessimism, and loss of motivation. The other cognitive psychologists argues that depression results not only from helplessness, but also from hopelessness. The hopelessness theory attributes depression to a pattern of negative thinking in which people blame themselves for negative life events, view the causes of those events as permanent, and overgeneralize specific weaknesses as applying to many areas of their life.

Cognitive psychologists also agree that stressful experiences can create depression in people who are predisposed to the illness. For example, the death of a loved one may cause depression. Psychologists usually distinguish true depression from grief, a normal process of mourning a loved one who has died. Other stressful experiences may include divorce, pregnancy, the loss of a job, and even childbirth. In addition, people with serious physical illnesses or disabilities often develop depression.

People who experience child abuse appear more vulnerable to depression than others. So, too, do people living under chronically stressful conditions, such as single mothers with many children and little or no support from friends or relatives.

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