- Learned helplessness: The psychologist
Martin Seligman proposed that depression results
from learned helplessness, or a tendency to give up
passively in the face of unavoidable stressors. Seligman pointed out
that people who have a pessimistic explanatory style are likely to
- Self-blame: Depressed people tend to attribute
negative events to internal, stable, and global factors. When a problem
occurs, they blame themselves rather than situational factors. They
believe the problem is likely to be permanent, and they overgeneralize
from the problem to their whole lives.
- Low self-esteem: Some researchers have suggested that
a pessimistic worldview is only one of several factors that contribute
to depression. They say that other factors such as low self-esteem and
stress also play an important role. All these lead to hopelessness,
which then leads to depression.
- Rumination: Rumination, or brooding about problems,
is associated with longer periods of depression. Some researchers
believe that women have higher rates of depression because they tend to
ruminate more than men.
Although many researchers believe negative thinking makes people
susceptible to depression, most also acknowledge a two-way relationship
between depression and negative thinking. Negative thinking makes people
susceptible to depression, and depression makes people more likely to think
Various interpersonal influences are also linked to depression:
- Lack of social network: Depressed people
tend to have less social support than other people, and the
relationship between social support and depression is likely to be
two-way. People with poor social skills may be more likely to
develop depression. Once people are depressed, they tend to be
unpleasant companions, which further reduces their social
- Loss of an important relationship: Some researchers
have suggested that depression can result when people lose important
The onset and course of mood disorders may be influenced by stress.
Stress also affects people’s responses to treatment and whether they are
likely to have a relapse. Some researchers have suggested that women are
more vulnerable to depression because they tend to experience more stress in
the form of discrimination, poverty, and sexual abuse and because they may
have less satisfying work and family lives than men.
Even if people are usually happy and have friends and family to rely
on, they can still become depressed. Major catastrophes and personal traumas
can also contribute to depression. For instance, living in a war zone,
having a home destroyed by fire, suffering from a chronically painful or
debilitating illness, going through a divorce, or losing a loved one can all
bring on depression.