The field of psychology is still developing, as noted by the psychologist Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. He makes this point to emphasize that psychology has been focused on repairing damage whereas it could also include building strength. Seligman began his career with a strong interest in depression, which later developed into his theory of learned helplessness and positive psychology.
Psychology Is a Science
Psychology is a science, although in a way it’s hard to see it as one. It’s a field that’s still a little fuzzy; the field is still in many ways in its early stages. This doesn’t mean that psychology hasn’t made some great advances – it has! But there are still many unknowns to resolve.
For instance, with depression, only 10 years ago, this diagnosis was still severely stigmatized. It was a frightening diagnosis to many socially and it was often treated with strong psychotropic medication. Although, the understanding of depression has gotten better, there are still some advances to make, particularly in the treatment and understanding of depression.
Other Contributors to Depression
For instance, it could be argued that psychology is leaving out the physiological and biological contributors to depression and because of this psychology lacks a holistic view. Physiological refers to the normal and healthy operation of your body and its organs. Therefore, physiological contributors to depression are those that are biological or physical, those aspects of the body’s living system that might be ill or failing and as a result might contribute to depression.
Looking at the physiological and biological contributors to mental illness leads to having a more holistic view of the functioning of the mind. According to The Free Dictionary holistic care is: “a system of comprehensive or total patient care that considers the physical, emotional, social, economic, and spiritual needs of the person; his or her response to illness; and the effect of the illness on the ability to meet self-care needs.” Essentially, holistic care takes into about the whole person. It not only considers the physiological and physical aspects of depression, but also the emotional, psychological, and spiritual facets to mental illness.
For instance, factors such as sleep, stress, diet, exercise, environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances can all play a role in the development of depression. The following is a list of some underlying factors of depression to consider:
- Alcoholism – A long-term addiction to alcohol can deplete essential nutrients and amino acids that are necessary for proper brain functioning.
- Candidiasis – This is a physical illness in which there is chronic overgrowth of yeast in the belly.
- Chronic Pain – The experience of ongoing physical or emotional pain can be a significant factor in the development of depression.
- Dietary Imbalances – When there is an excess of sugar and caffeine in one’s system, the imbalances that this produces can contribute to depression.
- Environmental Factors – When there is chronic intake of toxins into the body, such as solvents and heavy metals, including aluminum, cadmium, and lead, the body and mind are compromised.
- Food and Chemical Sensitivities – Certain unaddressed allergies such as to diary and to wheat can also influence the holistic system of the body.
- Hormonal Imbalances – Stress upon the endocrine glands can affect hormone levels and have a significant impact on one’s mood.
- Hypoglycemia – This is a condition of low blood sugar that can lead to mood swings and depression.
- Hypothyroidism – When the thyroid hormone levels are low, they can cause depression and exhaustion.
The way that the field of psychology currently manages mental illness is, for the most part, strictly from a psychiatric perspective. Although it takes into account the chemicals in the brain and the brain’s functioning, it rarely considers the above physiological contributors.
The second part of this two part series will conclude this list with 11 more physiological factors that may have an influence on the development and presence of depression.