How Evolutionary Psychology Informs the Treatment of Pathological and Non-Pathological Depression in Clinical Practice

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Tews, Warren
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Depression is a terrible and debilitating phenomenon that causes untold suffering in millions worldwide, results in billions of dollars of revenue losses, and is a significant precursor to suicide and self-harm. In the developed world, it appears that levels of depression continue to rise, despite the proliferation of pharmaceuticals and the tireless work of mental health professionals. There are many differences of opinion in both research and clinical practice regarding the causality and best treatment of depression. Evolutionary psychology is a branch of the discipline that has received only cursory attention in the clinical realm of treatment and understanding. Guided by two primary research questions: "Can the concepts of evolutionary psychology be used to inform the causality of pathological and non-pathological depression" and "How can the information from evolutionary psychology be used in the clinical treatment of depression," seven major themes emerged. These themes are as follows: the psychic pain hypothesis of depression, the behavioural shutdown hypothesis of depression, the social risk hypothesis of depression, the analytical rumination hypothesis of depression, behaviour genetics and heredity of depression, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles in the modern age, and depression as a mismatched adaptation in the modern environment. The major findings supported the potential for concepts of evolutionary psychology to help inform both the understanding and treatment of depression as an evolved psychological algorithm with definitive and purposeful functioning that has increasingly become pathological in the modern era. By helping practitioners to understand the underlying evolved mechanisms of how depression is meant to serve a human mind, the mismatches and modern pathological phenomenon of such a disorder can potentially be better informed, helping to elucidate and treat both pathological and non-pathological depression in clinical practice.
analytical rumination hypothesis , behavior genetics , behavioral shutdown hypothesis , clinical evolutionary psychology , depression , exercise and depression , psychic pain hypothesis , social risk hypothesis