physically caused depression is treated with psychotherapy, prayer,
illegal drugs, alcohol, talking to friends, self-help....) Don't neglect the
possibility of either physical-chemical or psychological-environmental
The very idea that drugs are the answer (to depression) suggests a moral, psychological,
and spiritual vacuum.
Peter Breggin (1994)
Poor social skills = no fun
One social learning theory (Lewinsohn & Arconan, 1981) proposes
that depression is a result of an unrewarding environment and the
person's reaction to it. This is like the loss theory (1) except there is a
twist: the "depressing" environment may not be painful, it may just
not be any fun--it provides no pleasure, no "positive reinforcement."
That could be depressing!
Lewinsohn and his associates have shown that depressives respond
slower and less often to others. They don't get others to respond to
them; thus, they get fewer social rewards (less fun) than
nondepressed people. More importantly, depressed people arouse
more anxiety, anger, depression, and rejection in others than
"normals" do (Coyne, 1976). How? By too many complaints, requests
for support, and premature discussions of personal problems. This may
account for staying depressed but it doesn't explain why the social
interaction and skills decline.
Coyne suggests that this sequence of events occurs: (a) some
stressful events happen, (b) depression-prone people need more social
support and nurturance than others when under stress, (c) but they
have fewer social skills for getting the extra support needed, which
worsens the depression, and (d) they start relating in ways that drive
others away, which maintains the depression. Indeed, 70% seeking
therapy aren't getting what they want from their spouse (McLean,
1976). Some questions still remain about this theory: Why do they
need more support? Why do they lack these skills? Why can't or don't
they figure out how to have more fun?
Recent research has studied which behaviors of depressed
students drive roommates away (Joiner, Alfano, & Metalsky, 1992).
Tentative findings are that depression per se doesn't turn people off,
but certain behaviors by self-depreciating depressed people do, such
as excessively seeking reassurance that the other person cares. This is
true especially between males. Obviously, how the depressed male is
received also depends on the characteristics of the "friend." For