Course: PSYC*1000 (DE)
Professor: Harvey Marmurek
Schedule: Summer, 2012
Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers
Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615
Module 49: Mood Disorders
What are mood disorders? How does major depressive disorder differ from bipolar disorder?
The emotional extremes of mood disorders come in two principal forms: (1) major depressive disorder, with its
prolonged hopelessness and lethargy, and (2) bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive disorder) in which
a person alternates between depression and mania, an overexcited, hyperactive state.
Major Depressive Disorder: 31% of collegians felt so depressed that it was difficult to function. Depression
is the number-one reason people seek mental health services. Depression plagues 12% of Canadian adults and
17% of US adults at some point during their lifetime. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In any
given year, a depressive episode plagues 5.8% of men and 9.5% of women, reports the WHO. Depressed mood is
often a response to past and current loss – death, marriage, job. Sadness is like a car’s low-oil-pressure light – a
signal that warns us o stop and take appropriate measures. Life’s purpose is not happiness but survival and
reproduction. Coughing, vomiting, swelling, and pain protect the body from dangerous toxins. Similarly depression
is a sort of psychic hibernation: it slows us down, defuses aggression, helps us let go of unattainable goals, and
restrains risk taking. There is sense to suffering. The difference between a blue mood and mood disorder Is like the
difference between gasping for breath after a hard run and being chronically short of breath. Major depressive
disorder occurs when at least five signs of depression last two or more weeks
• Depressed mood most of the day
• Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities
• Significant weight loss or gain when not dieting, or significant decrease or increase in appetite
• Insomnia or sleeping too much
• Physical agitation or lethargy
• Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
• Feeling worthless or excessive or inappropriate guilt
• Daily problems thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Bipolar Disorder: Some people rebound to, or sometimes start with, the opposite emotional extreme – the
euphoric, hyperactive, wildly optimistic state of mania. If depression is living in slow motion, mania is fast forward.
Alternating between depression and mania signals bipolar disorder. Teen mood swings, from rage to bubbly, can,
when, prolonged, produce a bipolar diagnosis. 2/3 of cases of boys. Changes proposed for the upcoming fifth
edition of the DSM will probably reduce the number of child and teen bipolar diagnoses, by putting into a different
category those whose emotional volatility cycles between depression and anger. During the manic phase, people
with bipolar disorder are typically overtalkative, overactive, and elated; have little need for sleep; show fewer sexual
inhibitions. Speech is loud, flighty, and hard to interrupt. Find advice irritating. Need protection from own poor
judgment. Milder forms of mania – creates creativity. George Frideric Handel, Robert Schumann.
Understanding Mood Disorders
How do the biological and social-cognitive perspectives explain mood disorders?
• Many behavioural and cognitive changes accompany depression – negativity in expectations, memories
• Depression is widespread
• Women’s risk of major depression is nearly double men’s. 13% of men and 22% of women. Women more
vulnerable to disorders involving internalized states (depression, anxiety, sexual desire) and men tend to be
external (alcoholism, antisocial, lack of impulse control). Women get sad, men get mad.
• Most major depressive episodes self-terminate – therapy can help, no help can help; for 20% it is chronic
• Stressful events related to work, marriage, and close relationships often precede depression – if stress-
related anxiety is a “crackling, menacing brushfire, depression is a suffocating heavy blanket thrown on top
of it.” • With each new generation, depression is striking earlier (now often in the late teens) and affecting more
people, with the highest rates in developed countries among young adults – mostly hidden, almost 90% of
parents perceived their depressed teen as not suffering depression.
The Biological Perspective
Genetic Influences: Mood disorders run in families. Twin – one diagnosed with major depressive – 1 in 2
that the other will; bipolar – 7 in 10 that the other will too. Fraternal twins – 2 in 10. adopted people who suffer a
mood disorder often have close biological relatives who suffer mood disorders, become dependent on alcohol or
commit suicide. Linkage analysis – after finding families in which the disorder appears across several
generations, geneticists examine DNA from affected and unaffected family members looking for differences.
Linkage analysis points us to a chromosome neighbourhood.
The Brain: Functional MRI scans showed disappointed swimmers experiencing brain-activity akin to those
of patients with depressed moods when watching failed attempt for Olympics. Many studies have found
diminished brain activity during slowed-down depressive states, and more activity during periods of mania. The
left frontal lobe and an adjacent brain reward entre are active during positive emotions, but less active during
depressed states. People with severe depression – MRI scans found frontal lobes 7% smaller than normal;
hippocampus (memory-processing centre linked with brain’s emotional circuitry) is vulnerable to stress-related
damage. Bipolar correlates with brain structure. Structural differences – decreased axonal white matter or
enlarged fluid-filled ventricles. Neurotransmitter systems influence mood disorders. Norepinephrine, is scare
during depression and overabundant during mania. Habitual smokers – attempt to self-mediate depression with
inhaled nicotine, which can temporarily increase norepinephrine and boost mood. Serotonin – significant life
stress plus a variation on a serotonin-controlling gene. Depression arose from the interaction of an adverse
environment plus a genetic susceptibility. Repetitive physical exercise reduces depression as it increases
serotonin, stimulating hippocampus neuron growth.
The Social-Cognitive Perspective
Research reveals how self-defeating beliefs and a negative explanatory style feed depression’s vicious ccle.
Negative Thoughts and Negative Moods Interact: Self-defeating beliefs may arise from learned
helplessness. Act depressed, passive, and withdrawn after experiencing uncontrollable painful events. Learned
helplessness more common in women than in men and women may respond more strongly to stress. 38% of
women and 17% of men entering psot-secondary school feel at least occasionally overwhelmed by what I have
to do. Women may be higher risk of depression because it may relate to their tendency to overthink, to ruminate
(staying focused on the problem). Explanatory style – who or what they blame for their failures. So it is with
depressed people, who tend to explain bad events in terms that are stable, global, and internal. Depression-
prone people respond to bad events in an especially self-focused, self-blaming way. Their self-esteem
fluctuates more rapidly up with boosts and down with threats. A recipe for severe depression is preexisting
pessimism encountering failure. Self-defeating beliefs, negative attributions, and self-blame coincide with a
depressed mood and are indicato