Psychological Self-Help

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What are the points here? (a) If depressed, try to recognize the
losses you may be responding to. (b) Realize the intimate connection
between your values and your regretted losses. (c) Try to reduce your
losses, if possible. And, perhaps, join community efforts to reduce
other peoples' losses--and thereby reduce your own losses. 
Genetic-physiological-chemical 
Ancient drugs, like reserpine, cause depression; others, like heroin
or opium, cause elation. So there is reason to suspect that some
naturally occurring "chemical factors" in the brain could influence
depression. Also, the environment is a factor, consider "blue Mondays"
and wintertime depression (relieved by full-spectrum lights). Likewise,
as we will see, genetic factors clearly play a role, at least in the most
serious forms of depression. Even proneness to minor stress and mood
swings may be partially inherited. And, physical treatment, like electric
shock, may reduce depression. My point again is: the causes of
depression are complex and only partially understood. 
Note: every once in a while, some amazing finding comes along
that shakes your thinking about a mental disorder. (Often the finding
is an accidental outcome which doesn't hold up over time, so know
about the finding but be cautious.) Very recently (2001) a press
release by Stanford University psychiatric team reported that the
abortion pill RU-486 had reduced serious psychotic depression
symptoms within four days for five women. These women were not
pregnant, so this isn't related to having an abortion. The theory is that
a hormone, cortisol, is associated with psychotic depression and RU-
486 blocks the brain's receptors for cortisol. The drug seems to only
help this one disorder. Interesting. More studies are being done. Stay
tuned. 
Studies of identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and several
generations within a family, suggest that your general level of
depression is partly inherited but not your level of happiness
(discussed in introduction). Your conscious efforts can influence
happiness regardless of the messages from your genes. However, if
one identical twin has a serious depression, the other twin has a 65%
chance of being depressed. Since 35% of the time one twin did not
become depressed, one could ask to what extent did the nondepressed
twin overcome his/her genes? We don't know. Maybe the depressed
twin is suffering from psychological causes. Again, we don't know but
in dizygotic twins the chance of the other twin getting depressed is
only 14%. Kendler, et al (1993) estimates that genes account for 41%
to 46% of the variance in depression. Clearly, depression runs in
families. The genes and the family environment are both involved, but
several studies find that it is individual specific-environmental factors
that influence depression and not shared family events, such as the
death of a parent. 
How physiologically do the genes, environment, and drugs
influence depression? Current speculation is that these factors
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