Major depressive disorder precursors, predictors and coping mechanism

Analysis focused on undergraduate students

Term Paper 2011 14 Pages

Health - Public Health


Major Depressive Disorder: Precursors, Predictors, and Coping Mechanism among Undergraduate Students

1. Preface

Major Depressive Disorders is one of the first disorders to be recognized among humanity. A number of psychologists and psychiatrists have come up with theories and myths that explain the origin of MDD. Ancient Egyptians identified the brain to be the body organ that was in charge of human consciousness (James Herbert, 2009). They believed that brain disorders could be caused by both supernatural factors and also other factors that were within human control. The Old Testament is also one of the earliest evidence of MDD. Examined as literary description of human behavior and society, MDD is described by King David and other author. It is defined as another form of psychological distress. In the earlier days, symptoms associated with MDD as per today’s standards include insomnia, fatigue, sadness and fearfulness. It is quite evident that even in the pre-classical period people had acknowledged conditions similar to MDD (James Herbert, 2009). However, the earliest written record of a medical diagnostic condition similar to MDD was in the classical era. It is the melancholia described by the Hippocrates. Melancholia is a sub set of Major Depressive Disorder but in earlier cases the word melancholia was used in place of MDD. In other parts of the world, melancholia is still used to mean MDD in today’s diagnostics (Seth Disner, 2011).

Melancholia is an etiological conceptualization of the Hippocrates’ time that revolves around the philosophy of the four humors. They believed that human moods, behaviors and emotions were affected by the interaction of the four bodily fluids. These are yellow bile, blood, phlegm and black bile. According to Galen, a Roman physician, individuals’ personalities were defined by the mixing of these four fluids. Based on this framework pathology was thought to arise in cases of imbalance in the mixing of the fluids. In Greek, melancholia means black bile; as such, melancholia was believed to arise in cases of overabundance of black bile (Seth Disner, 2011). Most societies no longer believe in melancholia but the symptoms associated with it are exhibited in persons suffering from MDD today. Symptoms of melancholia included loss of appetite, intense continuous pain, insomnia, and diminished interest in formerly pleasurable activities, difficulty in concentrating, suicidal ideation, irritability, excessive guilt and fatigue (Fishman, 2011).

2. Introduction

MDD is widely distributed among the different age groups and it is a common disorder. Seth Disner et al (2011) defines MDD as the existence of five or more depressive symptoms; namely sad mood, fatigue, inability to concentrate, self criticism and suicidal innuendos. It is mental disorder that generally affects the normal functioning of an individual; the condition affects the patient’s family, school life, and work, eating and sleeping habits (Fishman, 2011). The diagnosis of MDD is based on mental status examination and proclamations by friends, relatives and the patients themselves. There are also laboratory tests that could be performed to establish the extent to which the patient has been affected. Patients are usually treated using antidepressant, psychotherapy and counseling (Seth Disner, 2011). There has been a rise in the number of undergraduate students suffering from MDD. This disorder is associated with impairment and increase in mortality rates. It has grown into a public health problem as it was formerly overlooked and not much attention was put into treating depressive disorders.

MDD greatly affects the performance and school experience of students. For example, students suffering from depressions are at a higher risk of failing in exams, contemplating suicide or even interpersonal difficulties. Therefore, it is important that programs are put in place to help students with depression. School counselors can play a huge role in implementing programs that help reduce the risk of students getting into depression. MDD is a condition that needs to be actively addressed in colleges and learning institutions (Fishman, 2011). The most recent statistics show that 100 students out of 1000 in an institution are at the risk of experiencing severe depression. People who suffer from depression contract the condition early in life. Depression affects adolescents’ thoughts, moods, actions and physical health. If untreated the condition could lead to more severe conditions later in life, could as well lead to early death (Kadison, 2004).

2.1. Research objectives

The purpose of this research is to investigate and analyze the impact of a combination of precursors: predictors of MDD cognitive functioning, interpersonal relationships (peers and family), and substance abuse, self-efficacy and maladaptive coping mechanism (avoidance coping) among a national sample of U.S college students (Schwartz, 2002). It aims at presenting current information on major depressive disorder and coping mechanisms. It is important that the high risk population be taught on the signs and symptoms of this condition. When the people have enough information they are able to seek medication early enough before the condition becomes worse. Research shows that undergraduate students have exhibited an increase in those suffering from MDD (Seth Disner, 2011). This is shown by the increased number of teenage suicide cases in learning institution. The longer the duration which one suffers from MDD the higher the chances of them committing suicide.



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The University of Chicago
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Title: Major depressive disorder precursors, predictors and coping mechanism