UIUC PSYC 238 - Furman & Bender (2015) - The Social Problem of Depression(1) (17 pages)

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Furman & Bender (2015) - The Social Problem of Depression(1)



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The Journal of Sociology Social Welfare Volume 30 Issue 3 September Article 8 July 2015 The Social Problem of Depression A Multitheoretical Analysis Rich Furman Colorado State University Kimberly Bender Colorado State University Follow this and additional works at http scholarworks wmich edu jssw Part of the Clinical and Medical Social Work Commons and the Social Work Commons Recommended Citation Furman Rich and Bender Kimberly 2015 The Social Problem of Depression A Multi theoretical Analysis The Journal of Sociology Social Welfare Vol 30 Iss 3 Article 8 Available at http scholarworks wmich edu jssw vol30 iss3 8 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Social Work at ScholarWorks at WMU For more information please contact maira bundza wmich edu The Social Problem of Depression A Multi theoretical Analysis RICH FURMAN KIMBERLY BENDER Colorado State University School of Social Work The purposeof this paperis to discuss the socialproblem of depressionfrom a multi theoreticalperspective It explores depression through the lens of two psychologically based theories of human behavior existential theory and cognitive theory as well as through the vehicle of two sociologicaltheories Marxist theory and the theory of oppression By understandinghow each of these theoriesexplains depression social workers may be helped to see the complexity of treating the problem It is the belief of the authors that social work literature which is often dominated by reductionist quantitativelybased researchstudies has increasingly ignored theoreticalexplorationsof key social problems such as depression to the determent of the profession and the disciplines which inform it Introduction The purpose of this paper is to discuss the social problem of depression from a multi theoretical This work has been undertaken for several reasons First each of the four theories presented in this article form a piece of the puzzle for understanding depression as a psychosocial phenomenon By understanding how each of these theories explains depression social workers may be helped to see the complexity of treating the problem Second the increasing hegemony of psychiatry and privatization in the United States through the vehicle of managed care has led to the medicalization of many problems that often have psychosocial etiologies Thus other explanations to depression have received little recent interest or articulation Third it is the belief of these Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare September 2003 Volume XXX Number 3 124 Journal of Sociology Social Welfare authors that social work literature which is often dominated by reductionist quantitatively based research studies has increasingly ignored theoretical explorations of key social problems This is lamentable as theoretical scholarship has had an important place in the building of a social work knowledge base The problem of depression Depression is so prevalent that it has been referred to as the common cold of mental illness Turnbull 1991 However unlike the common cold depression can be fatal and has been referred to as the world s number one public health problem Burns 1980 Social awareness and concern regarding depression can be evidenced by the proliferation of self help books written on the subject over the past decade Carrigan 1997 Greenberger Padesky 1995 Larsen 1989 Katzenstein 1998 Kramer 1993 Rosen Amador 1996 Since depression is so prevalent all social workers regardless of their practice setting and specialization must be familiar with various aspects of the syndrome Depression has been a social problem throughout history The biblical tale of King Saul and Homer s suicidal character of Ajax depict examples of major depressive disorders Kaplan Sadock 1998 Depression is seen throughout history in literary and medical arenas Goodwin Guze 1996 Freud s conception of depression prevailed for the first half of the twentieth century While the psychoanalytic view of depression is far more complex and detailed than can be presented here the perspective stresses unresolved conflicts from the past locked away in the unconscious as the main determinant of the disorder Social workers working from this perspective the diagnostic school sought to treat depression by helping their clients uncover and resolve repressed conflicts The work of Jesse Taft 1933 and the functional school of social work represented a major shift in how depressive moods and other emotional experiences were seen Taft and the functionalists rejected the notion that emotional problems were the result of unresolved conflicts and intrapsychic pathology For Taft 1939 emotions were to be accepted and experienced not changed or blunted In Taft s conception of maturity and health the highly functioning individual is able to tolerate a high degree The Social Problem of Depression 125 of emotion without reactivity without the need to act them out Ideally emotions are to be tolerated and processed through our consciousness prior to any action Challenging the dominance of the diagnostic and the functional schools in the interpretation of depression was the developing medical model With the advent of modern psychiatric medication depression began to be seen as a medical disease Today the medical model stands as the dominant model for understanding and treating depression Psychopharmacological developments through the study of antidepressant medications and their effects on depressive symptoms have supported the biomedical view of depression and other mental disorders Medical research has sought to demonstrate that depression is caused by fluctuations in levels of neurotransmitters which lead to the subjective experience of depression The medical model seeks to increase levels of these neurotransmitters in an effort to decrease depressive mood Kaplan Sadock 1998 For the general United States population Boyd and Weissman 1983 report that at some point in their lives 8 12 percent of men and 20 24 percent of women will meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression Prevalence of depression varies greatly within the population however Egeland Hostetter 1993 found the incidence for all types of depression within the Amish community to be less than I percent This variance across populations points to the importance of social and cultural influences in the definition and expression of depression Kaelber Moul Farmer 1995 compared epidemiological research on depression in dozens of countries and


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