ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (6): 1041-1053.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.01041

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Three theoretical perspectives on the origin of depression

CHEN Zichen, ZHANG Huijuan, WANG Xinjian, LV Xiaokang()   

  1. Department of Social Psychology, Nankai University, Tianjin 300350, China
  • Received:2017-07-03 Online:2018-06-10 Published:2018-04-28
  • Contact: Xiaokang LV


Biomedical approaches to study depression focus on the explanation and intervention of the proximate cause of depression by exploring specific pathogenic genes and neuropathological mechanisms, while the theoretical medical studies of the origin of depression discuss the ultimate historical cause of depression, mainly through theoretical reasoning based on empirical results. Those theories can be classified into three perspectives. First is the evolutionary adaptation perspective, which suggested that depression originates from the adaptive mechanisms coping with evolutionary pressure, represented by the social adaptation hypothesis and the individual adaptation hypothesis. Second is the functional disorder perspective, which assumes that depression originates from the dysfunction of normal moods and emotions, represented by the mismatch explanation and gene distribution explanation. Third is the social culture perspective, which believed that depression originates from social-cultural constructed concepts, represented by the social-cultural construction viewpoint and knowledge development viewpoint. There are different tendencies of the meaning and essence of depression under three perspectives, either of essentialism or constructivism. Theoretical integration and evidence base are needed for developing more comprehensive interpretation frameworks.

Key words: depression, mental disorder, psychiatry, theoretical medicine

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