Health Psychology: Depression

Health Psychology: Depression

Depression is one of the most common illnesses today and is widely studied in Psychology. The illness has a biological basis derived from the fact that one’s biology and genetics contributes to the onset or incidence of depression. In particular, the influence of neurotransmitters and hormones in the development of depression is a widely accepted fact in the field of psychology. According to Ball et al (2009) the brain controls all the basic functions of the body including thoughts and emotions. In fact, any reaction initiated by the body in response to stressor factors is controlled by the brain. Still, the release of hormones in response to different stressor situations within the body may result in the development of depression thus giving a more solid biological basis. Depression could also arise from genetics such that people can inherit susceptibility to the illness of depression.

Depression is also composed of an environmental component because it is highly influenced by the levels of exposure to certain environmental factors. Indeed, depression is largely dependent on factors that are within the control of the affected party arising from the environment. Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that environmental factors are ever present in humans’ daily lives and one cannot avoid these factors. This means that humans are continually exposed to the risk of contracting depression. Such factors may include prolonged periods of emotional instability as well as the loss of loved ones. A person’s reaction and interaction with the environmental factors has been identified as a key determinant in the development of depression (Ball et al, 2009). It is also reported that people with clinical depression have had severe instances of difficulties during their childhood. It is clear that the evidence of negative environmental factors in one’s life may result in the development of depression.

The onset of depression is not isolated to either biological or environmental factors. On the contrary, the development of depression normally results from an interaction between the two components. Indeed, the response of bodily functions, and biological components, to the environmental factors determines the development of depression. For instance, the loss of a loved one is an environmental factor whose biological response may be the release of stressor hormones thus giving way to the development of depression. There are of course varying combinations of the two factors resulting in different degrees and types of depression in the affected persons. While women are more prone to emotional instability, a biological factor, men o the other are more exposed to depressive environmental factors (Piccinelli & Wilkinson, 2000). In essence, therefore, biological and environmental components of depression interact freely in human beings.

Perhaps the most effective treatment option for depression is lifestyle change. In particular, regular exercise has been observed to have better results in the treatment of medication compared to medication. Exercising is a biological treatment option that targets the release of hormones that lead to the development of depression. Indeed, the release of endorphins, serotonin and a variety of feel good hormones may be the key to fighting depression (Berger et al, 2009). Moreover, the use of exercise is attributed with the growth and development of new brain cells thereby acting in a similar fashion as antidepressants. Moreover, exercises do not have to be rigorous to treat depression but light practices including walking for a few minutes. The use of this treatment option is however best implemented when complimented with other options such as nutrition, social support and cognitive therapy.



Piccinelli, M., & Wilkinson, G. (2000). Gender differences in depression. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 177(6), 486-492.

Berger, M., Gray, J. A., & Roth, B. L. (2009). The expanded biology of serotonin. Annual review of medicine, 60, 355-366.

Ball, H. A., Sumathipala, A., Siribaddana, S. H., Kovas, Y., Glozier, N., McGuffin, P., & Hotopf, M. (2009). Genetic and environmental contributions to depression in Sri Lanka. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 195(6), 504-509.



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