Depression: Causes or Effects? Essay

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Depression: Causes or Effects?

Depression supplies a distinct depiction of the brain equals behavior theory. The physiological characteristics that taint the diseased brain directly impact the thoughts and behaviors of the millions of sufferers. The genesis of this dehabilitating problem is both mysterious and complicated and I am not offering any sort of revelation in stating that it is a multi-factorial manifestation involving both biological and environmental components. The end product of these variable factors do, however, provide some common biochemical alterations in the brain that lend insight into understanding the reality and possible treatment of the disease.

So, in the spirit of "working backwards," I will explore
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Hormonal abnormalities may also characterize the depressed brain. The most pervasive irregularity lies in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the system that manages the body's response to stress. When a threat to physical or psychological well-being is detected, the hypothalamus increases production of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), which, in turn, induces the pituitary to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then instructs the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Chronic activation of the HPA axis may result in illness and depression. In fact, hyperactivity in the HPA axis is the most replicated finding in all of biological psychiatry (1).

I have been referring to these conditions as "end-products" but they could, just as easily, be viewed as causes and not consequences of depression. Perhaps I have not been working backwards at all but have instead been addressing the origins of this disease. It all depends on why people get depressed in the first place. Seeing as how preventative medicine is almost always the best medicine, the "why" of this issue becomes quite critical. Unfortunately, the why of depression seems to be even more elusive than the how.

There is, of course, the stress dimension, which was made very relevant by the HPA axis discovery. But what about individuals who encounter depressive episodes with no history of stress or trauma? And why
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