Alternative Theories about the Causes of Depression

  • Kristina Downing-Orr


Although the more traditional and accepted physiological and psychological theories about the causes of depression have been influential and illuminating, it should also be evident that there are several theoretical and methodological limitations to many of these explanations. The most glaring limitation of these theories is that they are rigidly based on the assumption that depression is either a psychological illness or a biological one, so that other potential areas of explanation are ignored. Neurochemical malfunctions, childhood traumas, or poor social skills fail to explain Shelly’s intolerance to a combination of caffeine and sugar. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that in some circumstances, depression is even an accurate, realistic response and reaction to a troubled life. Therefore, in order to offer better theoretical accounts of depression, it is essential to accept that physiological causes of depression are not limited to the neurochemical and that existential crises and despair are also relevant. Although there are no doubt numerous and thought-provoking alternative theories about the origins of depression, two in particular are discussed below.


Multiple Sclerosis Health Care Professional Mood Disorder Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Emotional Distress 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristina Downing-Orr
    • 1
  1. 1.OxfordEngland

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