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Biological Basis of Behavior

There are many different titles for depression, such as clinical depression, manic depression, major depression, and simply depression. Whatever, the title they are all depression and range from mild to severe furthermore, this condition attacks the rich, the poor, the young and the old it is truly a equal opportunity condition. Finally, for as many titles as depression has this condition also has just as many reasons as to why an individual might have depression.

Therefore, in beginning I will give a definition explaining the difference between an individual that has perhaps mild depression and an individual that has major depression. The majority of us at one time or another experience some sort of mild depression, also referred to as “reactive depression, it is created by realistic perceptions of a negative event.” (, p. 3) An incident that perhaps would cause a state of mild depression would be the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one.

Another time that for some causes an individual to have mild depression is over the holiday seasons, even though the holidays for many of us brings happy times with family and friends, for some individuals it brings loneliness and sadness for times past. Though mild depression can mimic some symptoms of major depression perhaps, the main difference is time, a long-term change in an individual’s behavior and the ability to recover.

Subsequently, according to an article created by an organization called A.D.A.M. who research and write articles that are also reviewed by medical professionals major depression is described as “when a person has five or more symptoms of depression for at least 2 weeks. These symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless, worthless, or pessimistic.” (, n.d., p. 1) These same symptoms can be noticed in an individual with mild depression however, the periods between the two events are different or even the outcome can be different. Those individual that have mild depression can normally recover quickly where those with major depression may not. In addition to, even the outcomes of major depressed individuals are different; individuals that have major depression can take up to 2 years to recover, if they recover at all. Furthermore, this article states “15 % of individuals with major depression commit suicide” (, n.d., p. 3) successfully.

Now that I have hopefully, with success distinguished the difference between minor depression, which the majority of us have at some point in our lives and major depression, I would like to discuss some of the possible causes focusing more on major depression. Even though the exact reason as to why an individual develops major depression is not known, it is believed that, it is a combination of issues that together contributes to an individual developing major depression. The issues that can contribute to an individual developing depression are many they include such issues as “abuse, certain medications, conflict, death or a loss, genetics, major events, other personal problems such as social isolation, serious illness, and substance abuse.”(, n.d., p. 1)

While doing research for this paper I read several different articles on depression, and my interpretation of what they were saying once again distinguishing between minor and major depression. For example, in the majority of the articles on minor depression they indicated that any of the above single issues could cause an individual to experience a brief episode of depression, lasting anywhere between a couple of hours to perhaps a couple of days, however no longer than perhaps a week. On the other hand, in the articles I read discussing major or clinical depression they appeared to indicate a combination of the above issues as to the reason why an individual would have major depression.

Furthermore, those articles that discussed the causes for an individual to develop major depression also indicated that even with individuals that have a family history of depression it is normally a combination of issues that contribute to an individual having either minor or major depression. Therefore, if found myself wondering why or what it is that causes one individual to either not have any depression, have minor depression or major depression when both individuals are faced with the exact same situation or situations, therefore, I continued my readings.

As I continued reading the article on WebMD, it also listed biological factors that are believed to contributing to clinical depression. This article described how researchers have discovered that the hippocampus of an individual known to have had continual depression is smaller than that of an individual that has never had depression. The hippocampus as discovered from my readings of the class book and this article states “is the area of the brain known to be vital to the storage of an individual’s memories.” (, n.d., para. 13)

Furthermore, this article goes on to describe that in an individual, which is known to have continual episodes of depression they show “fewer serotonin receptors in the brain” (, n.d., para. 14) than an individual that is known not to have episodes of depression. The article goes on to state that “Serotonin is a calming brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter that allows communication between nerves in the brain and the body. It has also thought that the neurotransmitter norepinephrine may be involved in depression.”(, n.d., para. 14)

Finally, it is believe by some researchers that a stress hormone, known as cortisol is produced in large amounts by those individuals known to have episodes of depression. In addition, that extreme manufacturing of cortisol “creates a toxic, even a poisonous effect on the hippocampus of an individual” (, n.d., para. 15) with episodes of depression. On the other hand, some researchers believe that depression is exclusively a condition that an individual has at birth since they already have a smaller hippocampus at birth.

Nevertheless, in another article I read it specifies that even though genetics is suspected of playing a critical role in determining whether an individual will have some types of depression, it also indicate that biological factors play a very important role. In this article from healthy place, it goes on to discuss the fact that individuals that have episodes of depression suffer from inequity in their brains neurotransmitters, and that the two neurotransmitters involved are serotonin and norepinephrine. Furthermore, this article describes how “Scientists think a deficiency in serotonin may cause the sleep problems, irritability, and anxiety associated with depression. Likewise, a decreased amount of norepinephrine, which regulates alertness and arousal, may contribute to the fatigue and depressed mood of the illness.” (, n.d., p. 1)

Next, I would like to conclude this paper by going over some of the recommend treatments for depression and ending with some recommended preventions. Major depression has a variety of ways in which it can be treated, however the most common and effective seems to be with medications and counseling. Some of the medications include “tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs).” (, n.d., para. 3)

However, even though these medications can be effective on some individuals, they are not effective on everyone. Furthermore, there are indications that “lithium and thyroid supplements may be needed to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants.”(, n.d., para. 4) Even though the medications do work for a majority of individuals, and can be very beneficial if there is some sort of chemical imbalance within an individual’s brains it is only part of the remedy for depression. The long-term remedy in many individuals is counseling, discovering the issue or issues that are creating the depression and learning to either deal with the issue or issues or at least learning how to cope with the issue or issues creating the depression.

In conclusion, I would like to touch on some recommended prevention methods from the articles I have read, on how to prevent or at least minimizing the episodes of depression. An individual can help prevent some episodes of depression by avoiding certain liquid refreshments such as alcohol, and beverages containing caffeine, and of course, the use of any type of drugs including prescription drugs unless they have been prescribed for you. Next research has proven that an individual that eats healthy, exercises regularly, and gets the proper amount of sleep nightly are less likely to have episodes of depression or at least seem to have fewer. Finally, research further indicate that an individual who uses proper techniques for dealing with stress and proper relaxation techniques have fewer episodes of stress if any at all.

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