Essay by vanikumUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

download word file, 12 pages 4.3

Half-full or half-empty? Cognition and depression.


The etiology of depression can be illustrated from biological defects or abnormality, personal characteristics, and environmental factors. Over the last three decades cognitive functioning of the depressed patient has come to be seen as an integral part of the depressive process. Numerous studies (Beck, 1974; Legeron, 1997) have focused on depressed patient's pessimism. The main focus of the current study, however, is on cognitive factors of depression. This essay will present and explain mechanisms of depression through a series of cognition studies and theories, among them are Beck's cognitive theory of depression, Young's Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs), Attribution theory and Learned helplessness. The discussion is integrated from these theories to show how negative thinking style and perceptions, called schema are formed, and how the schema influences and affects the state of mood, leading to depression. Some personal characteristic differences are also examined to see why do some people go into a major depressive episode following a loss or setback while others do not.

Beck's cognitive model of depressive vulnerability states that the underlying factors which separate easily depressed people and not so easily depressed people is the degree they hold depressive beliefs (Beck and Butler, 1997). The depressed patient differs from the non-depressed people in the way he construes the experiences (Beck, 1974). This basic perception of the experiences influence various interpretation of the information which causes major depression to some while others go through without getting depressed. The cognitive theory of depression is useful since it has been studied and validated experimentally and it has given rise to a therapy in the treatment of depression which can be superior to drugs in the prevention of relapse (Moussaoui, 1997).


Depression has been variably used to describe mood and classify a psychological syndrome.