Psychological Research on Depression: Experiment Case Study

Published: 2021-07-19 12:40:06
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Category: Psychology

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This course paper will delve into a case study involving a woman who was selected from an experiment involving depression after showing a higher positive outcome from said experiment. The Individual used in this case study was a White British woman in her 50’s named Theresa. She signed up for a computerized positive mental imagery training program that was being tested to see if it had any positive impact on an individual’s depression. This individual has been described as having major depression for at least two years one specialist claimed, but she acknowledged that she has had recurrent depression for years dating back to her early 20’s. Per the case study, the diagnostic interview revealed she suffered from various comorbidities such as; travel phobias, social phobias, general anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. All of which has been considered to contribute to her major depression diagnosis. She often feared as coming across as stupid in conversations with her peers, as well worrying often about her life such as her health, her job/debt and her daughter’s lives as well. She has also acknowledged that she drinks more than she should and has recently been taking less hours at work (in part to help take care of her mother with Alzheimer’s disease). She has tried medicines in the past but often rejected it saying medicine would not solve the problem.
The diagnostic interview revealed key events told by Theresa that we can certainly say had some impact on her well-being now. We will use her symptoms as well as her past to interpret and analyze how other schools of thought would explain the etiology or the origins of her mental illness. The schools of thought that will be covered are psychodynamic, which is one of the earliest approaches to understanding the mind, and made famous by Sigmund Freud who fabricated theories which formed the psychodynamic path to psychology. Studying the role the unconscious plays on the mind, behavior and personality. Behavioral, initially studied by Ian Pavlov and soon after by John Watson; refers the study of behaviors that are learned through everyday life, and interactions with the world. And finally, biological, which can be dated back to Charles Darwin who believed in natural selection and based his theories on it. The biological school of thought specifically studies our genetics and evolution to see what role they may play on our behavior, thoughts and feelings.
We will first cover the psychodynamic school of thought. This school of thought is based primarily on the unconscious mind and how it affects personality. Some basics to cover are that the psychodynamic school of thought is based on the assumption that our past experiences have a strong influence on our behavior, feelings and even decisions, while hiding deep in the unconscious. Many who followed this theory believed early on that our personality can be affected and manipulated based on an individual’s history, and that is something that can be said about Theresa. From a young age, she has had anxiety in social settings and was even physically assaulted at work leading to her post traumatic stress disorder. These disorders still affect her and from a psychodynamic view they would say that those past experiences lead her to a more isolated lifestyle. She’s afraid to be in conversations fearing a negative opinion of her from her peers. She also admitted that she had previous administrative jobs but recently started taking less hours at work. She admitted of an early social phobia that originated in her teens. Having less interaction with peers her age could possibly be the reason she choose to stay out of conversations and taking less hours at work later on in her life. Those negative feelings and thoughts possibly stayed in her unconscious and influenced how she behaves socially as an adult. As for the drinking, although she didn’t admit to having a family history of alcohol dependence, she admitted she does drink more than she should, and it could be possible that she grew up around family’s members who may have drank excessively; storing that information in the unconscious and later brining that trait out when she grew up whether she realized it or not.
The behavioral school of thought has a slightly different interpretation as to why she may act and have the type of personality that she does. John Watson believed that we have to stop studying the mind in a way that we don’t fully understand, he believed that our actions, feelings and behaviors can be directly linked our environment and the ‘triggers’ that have an impact on individuals. Per the textbook, This approach emphasizes environmental effects on observable behavior. From a behavioral view, Theresa’s current lifestyle and behaviors have been determined by her reaction to her environment. Past positive experiences could led to possible positive future scenarios, but since she’s had anxiety and various other disorders, it’s fair to say her past has been more negative than positive. For example, she mentioned that she was previously assaulted at work, leading to her post traumatic stress disorder and later admitted that she has been taking less hours at work. This decision of hers may have been influenced from that experience, fearing another assault she choose less hours at work. The same can be said about her social interactions with workers, since she had social anxiety early on, those past experiences could have led her to fear conversations with others, as well as living alone with her mother. As for her travel phobia, which includes public transportation as well as driving her own car, she may have been previously in an accident or may have seen one that could have led to her behavior and fear of traveling. Finally, Theresa admitted that she worries about her daughters lives substantially, and that they don’t live close which doesn’t help. Her daughters living far away could increase her concern for them, possibly making her think that there’s not much she can do to help.
The last school of thought that we will analyze is biological. Per Psychological Science (sixth edition), Almost all biological and psychological activity is affected by the actions of multiple genes In addition, scientists are beginning to understand the relationship between situations, genes, and behaviors. The biological school of thought relies heavily on evolution and how our genes and traits play a role on our behavior and feelings. For example, today our society has an abundance of food, some healthy and some not. A lot of individuals eat junk food, and per the textbook, it may be hard to stop eating such food. That may be in part explained by the fact that thousands of years ago we didn’t have access to such vast amounts of sugars and types of ‘junk’ foods. It was more of a survival aspect to earlier humans since it was harder to come by; and those traits seemed to be passed down influencing our cravings for that type of food today. As for Theresa’s phobia of traveling, that could be explained by our need to survive, she may fear getting into an accident and our survival instinct may be affecting her behavior and feelings towards moving at such a fast speed. Moving on to her constant concern of her daughters’ lives and her own health, this may be influenced by our desire to reproduce and safe guard our offspring, hoping to spread our genes to more generations, survival of the fittest as Charles Darwin would say.

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