PS276 Lecture 1: PS 276 Lesson 1 Ch.1

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7 Aug 2016
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PS 262: Lesson 1
Chapter 1: Biological Transitions
Lifespan Perspective (hand written)
Depression in Adolescence
Research in many developed countries has shown that there are sharp increases at
adolescence in the diagnosis of depression and in the incidence of depressive feelings and
symptoms (e.g., Wichstrom, 1999).
This increase is evident in early adolescence (age 13-14) and is primarily due to increases
in depressive mood for girls; adolescent boys show very small differences from
preadolescence to adolescence in the extent of depressed mood.
Thus, females are much more likely than males to show depression in adolescence and
adulthood, though this is not true in childhood (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1990). However, it also
may be the case that this gender difference in adolescence and adulthood is not found in
developing countries, where rates of depression seem to be equivalent for males and
females (e.g., Culbertson, 1997).
oThis seems to suggest that some sorts of cultural factors must be involved in this
gender difference.
The severity of depressive symptoms and problems varies, and it is important to be clear
about these differences.
oLeast severe are reports of depressive symptoms, feelings of sadness and
discouragement which many people experience at some point.
More serious would be a depressive "syndrome", a set of negative symptoms that fit
together. Even more serious would be actual diagnosis of one of several types of
depressive disorders, including bi-polar disorder (involving mood swings between manic
"highs" and depressive "lows"), dysthymia or chronically depressed mood over a period
of time, and major depressive disorder.
oThese more severe disorders are rarer, but all do show some degree of increase in
adolescence. Most are more common in females, but this is not true of bi-polar
disorder (Jamison, 1999).
What is known about the causes of these problems?
oIt is believed that these disorders generally result from a combination of genetic
risk factors which "predispose" some people to more likelihood of experiencing
the disorder, and environmental problems which trigger the occurrence of the
disorder by increasing people's stresses.
The degree of genetic predisposition is known to vary for different types of depressive
problems, being highest for manic-depressive or bi-polar disorder (Jamison, 1999).
Why might depressive mood problems increase for girls at puberty?
oThe Wichstrom study mentioned above investigated this by looking at
questionnaire reports from a large sample of 12,000 Norwegian adolescents of
different ages.
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