1This essay aims to discuss the forever evolving debate concerned with the extent to which depressive disorders are either a product of nature, nurture, or their interaction. The argument surrounding the concepts of nature and nurture within psychology, is con-cerned with the extent to which particular aspects of behaviour, such as those behaviours relating to depressive disorders, can be attributed to either inherited (i.e. intrinsic factors) or acquired (i.e. ex-ternal factors) characteristics. “Nature” refers to biological, inherited and genetic factors, whilst “Nurture” is in reference to environmental and learned or acquired behaviours. Depression is a mood disorder which prevents individuals from leading a normal life, at work socially or within their family. Seligman (1973). The American Psychological Association Di-agnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) also classifies Major Depressive Disorder as a mood disorder. According to the DSM-IV-TR, there are two main depressive symptoms—depressed mood and anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure in activities that would usually be pleasurable). At least one of these must be present to make a diagnosis of major depressive episode. Historically, different branches of psychology have approached the issue from a one versus other perspective. For example, biological psychology focuses on the importance of genetics and biological influences, whilst Behaviorism emphasises the impact of environmental factors, and ex-presses the view that depression is the result of a persons interaction with their environment. Over time, It has become apparent that there is simply too much evidence on both sides of the argument to support an all or nothing view. Today, most psychologists agree that psychological problems are more likely to be caused by a combination of biology and environment. To this end, the question of nature versus nurture assumes that both play a role, and asks instead, how much in-fluence does one or the other have on our mental health? Answering this question will have great implications for formulating future approaches to treatments of those who suffer from depressive disorders, including a myriad of other mental and physical health disorders.
2Traditionally, behavioural theorists such as Lewinsohn (1974) proposed that the causes of depression were due to the removal of positive reinforcement form the environment, or due the re-inforcement of depressed behaviours by others. This is in line with Watson (1930), who believed that people could be trained to respond in specific ways, regardless of their genetic background and according to the degree of specific stimulation within their environment. Conversly, Aaron Beck’s (1967) cognitive approach, suggests that depression is caused from systematic negative bias in thinking processes, and that these patterns of thinking are what result in the emotional and behav-ioural symptoms of depressive disorders.
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