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Depression in Todays World

Ashlynn Smith
November 7, 2014

Depression is a disease that no one really thinks of or pays much attention too because it
really isnt thought of as a disease or its just thought of people always being negative, but it
actually can be really crippling and hard on people. Not to mention of how common its
becoming and really starting to affect many people in this world. There are a few thoughts of as
to what causes depression, including biological/genetics, psychological, and/or environmental
factors (Oyama & Piotrowski, 2014).
According to Oyama and Piotrowski, depression is used to describe different things and
not just mean one particular thing. For example, they give that depression can be defined as a
fleeting mood, a physical appearance of sadness, and for some it is a diagnosable clinical
disorder. In the Discover Magazine article, Churchill and the Stigma of Depression, it says
depression has a stigma attached to it that says a person is weak, soft, and pitiable. Its true too
unfortunately because most people do just see it as a weakness thing and that they cant
overcome a bad day. Those disorders though are also known as Major Depressive Disorder
(MDD) and they are defined by symptoms that are or become present in a two week period and
show a significant change in how the person was before (Oyama & Piotrowski 2014). Some of
the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder are a depressed or irritable mood for the majority of
the day, lack of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable, a very noticeable amount of
weight loss or gain that is not on purpose, insomnia or hypersomnia, physical slowness, loss of
energy, feeling worthless or full of guilt, and thoughts of death (Oyama & Piotrowski 2014).
With a little background knowledge of depression and Major Depressive Disorders, genetics is
one of the thoughts as to what causes depression and MDD.
Genetics play a role in depression because it can determine how susceptible a person is to
having a higher chance of having depression and the possibility comes from familial links in
first-degree relatives (Oyama & Piortowski 2014). There is also a thought that there is a
connection between depression and the chemicals that are in the brain. Two of the biggest
chemicals that deal with that connection are serotonin and dopamine, but more studies really
focus on serotonin.
The general idea of depression comes from the thought that a shortage in
neurotransmitters at synapses between neurons cause a problem with the transmission of nerve
impulses, which then contributes or causes depression (Arkowitz & Lilienfeld 2014). One of
those transmitters that draw a large amount of attention in studies is serotonin, but also dopamine
as I mentioned earlier.
People who have depression nowadays can take antidepressants like Zoloft. I know this
because depression is something that runs in my family on both my moms side and dads side of
the family and they have been prescribed Zoloft. The prescription Zoloft is prescribed to those
with depression because its job is to increase the amounts of serotonin, which there is a lack of,
and the other neurotransmitters (Arkowitz & Lilienfeld 2014). Arkowitz and Lilienfeld make an
interesting point though to antidepressants. What I mean by that though, is they say just because
a drug decreases symptoms for a disease it does not always mean that those symptoms were
caused by a chemical problem that the drug is supposed to correct and fix. So they go on and
give the example of aspirin making headaches go away, but headaches dont happen because
there is a shortage in aspirin in the body.
According to an article that Ed Yong put together, there was a study done on some mice.
At the beginning it starts out with a mouse that is starting to experience depression in a 10 week
time period. It doesnt want to do or eat anything and just doesnt show interest. Well then a
method was done by Kay Tay and Julie Mirzabekova and the two of them altered the mouse that

when the mouse saw a flash of light it would activate a small part of its brain, which they
clarified as the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Once this was done the mouse gained interest in
all things and started wanting to eat and be active. The other method that was done by Dipesh
Chaudhury and Jessica Walsh and they do the exact thing, but in a more intense form of stress on
the mice in 10 days. When they flashed the light on their mice, some of them did the exact
opposite of Tays study and they showed more depressed symptoms.
From personal knowledge and from reading Arkowitz and Lilienfelds article to back up
that personal knowledge, the antidepressants dont always work. They may subside the
depression, but it does not go away and for some it doesnt go away at all. Depression can also
be caused by psychological reasons. The article goes on to say that the two teams got the results
they did because of the different kind of stress the rodents went through, which then gives the
understanding of how complicated depression is and how not one treatment or solution work for
everyone (Yong 2012).
The significance of this study is that it showed why the dopamine system is just as
important as serotonin is and the reason why is because the study proved that even though there
were two different types of stress going on both of the VTAs were being acted upon and the
effects could be reversed immediately. The VTA is a place where neurons can secrete dopamine,
which is also another chemical in the brain that involves feelings and deals with depression. This
find though with dopamine is important they say because with some of the antidepressants
results arent seen for sometimes weeks or months and with this you can see effects within
minutes (Yong 2012). It also goes to show says Tye, That we are targeting the direct circuits
that are immediately governing depression-related symptoms (Yong 2012). While there have
been great finds in the genetics field as to what causes depression there are also psychological
causes.
Psychological stressors can trigger depression, but not one of those triggers can be the
same for someone else as it is for one person. Some of those triggers can be a death of someone
who was loved very much by the person, dealing with finances, losing a job, personal problems,
or traumatic world events like a disaster or war (Oyama & Piotrowski, 2014). Each of these, like
mentioned above, affect and trigger stages of depression for people in different ways because not
everybody is the same, but in Oyama and Piotrowskis article they do find it strange how some
things do trigger depression for someone and not for others. As there are genetics and
psychological factors to depression there is environmental factors too.
Environment can play a part in depression as well and that is one that is a no brainer. Its
one that is simple to understand because environmental things dont just affect those with
depression, but also everyone on this earth. Those who already have some type of depression,
whether it be very bad or just mild, if they are living in an area that is rainy, dark, no sun, and
just dreary, that is going to make it very easy for depression to really settle in because that is
such a negative atmosphere and feeling to it. Its hard to feel happy and good when there is no
sun and so it is easy to be down in the dumps when it is gloomy.
Depression isnt something to be taken lightly because more and more each day, people
are starting to suffer from it at different levels severity. Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is
a disease and one at that, which needs to have a cure so that people dont have to suffer and be
miserable all the time. I personally have seen depression on different scales of severity in my
family and its sad in all honesty to see those who you love in pain and they just dont find the
want or need to get up and do something and be with their family and loved ones. This is one of
the biggest reasons why I chose this topic was because of how prevalent it is in my family.

Depression isnt just at a psychological or environmental reason for cause, but most definitely in
the genetics and biology causes.

Literature Cited
Oyama, Oliver, PhD, Piotrowski, Nancy A., PhD, January 2014. Magills Medical Guide (Online
Edition). Depression.
Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld. March 1, 2014. Is Depression Just Bad Chemistry?.
Scientific American Mind. Vol. 25, Issue 3. Facts and Fictions in Mental Health
Neuroskeptic. May 15, 2013. Churchill and the Stigma of Depression. Discover Magazine
Ed Yong. December 12, 2012. The two faces of depression-two studies switch off symptoms in
mice, but in opposite ways. Discover Magazine