depression – some diverce definitions

Here are some definitions I found as part of papers I have written – looking at depression from medical/scientific, philosophical and psychotherapeutic viewpoints.

Depression constitutes the most common psychological problem nowadays. Great numbers of people who experience feelings and thoughts that are described as depressive are on the increase with two million people diagnosed each year in the U.K. alone (McKenzie, 2000). Depression, anxiety and loss of self esteem are also the most common symptoms among psychiatric outpatients (Frank, 1982). Involving diverse and wide populations, the experience of depression appears to be always at the risk of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. It could be argued that the term ‘depression is now so widely used that it is almost meaningless’ (Cohn, 1997: 107); nevertheless, this very popularity of the term and its spectrum of interpretations and meanings seem worthy of a closer examination.

The Oxford English dictionary defines depression as ‘(a) a pathological state of extreme dejection or melancholy, often with physical symptoms. (b) a reduction in vitality, vigour, or spirits’ (Thompson, 1997). Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist, was the first to use the term ‘depression’ medically as a neurosis in 1899. Nevertheless, modern day psychiatry classifies depression as a mood disorder. There are numerous arguments and counter-arguments in relation to whether depression needs to or can be understood medically or not and some of the main points are being reviewed in this dissertation. Depression first entered the psychiatric diagnostic statistical manual (DSM) over 50 years ago. Psychoanalysis was often the treatment then, yet many suffered in silence (Solomon, 2001). Nowadays, millions are treated often with antidepressants with positive results (ibid), whereas other research indicates that popular chemical treatments are not fruitful (Boseley, 2008).