Depression has long since been the plague of humanity. Whether it is a biochemical disorder or mourning the loss of a loved one, nearly every human being has experienced the blues. However, depression becomes a problem when it persists past the mourning stage. Many people experience it for seemingly no reason. It is that cold sense of apathy that lurks below the surface, siphoning your emotions and your ability to react to your surroundings. Nothing matters anymore when depression has you in its iron grasp. Eventually, you are reduced to staring listlessly at nothing while the world continues without you; a world that, in your opinion, would perhaps be better off if you did not exist. Such thoughts as those often occupy the mind of a
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Most of the time, reactive cases are easy to differentiate from endogenous cases. However, the question remains, what exactly causes an endogenous case of depression? Sigmund Freud was intrigued in the difference between mourners and genuinely depressed individuals. He rationalized that both suffered the loss of a “love object,” but while the mourner’s loss was tangible, the depressed individual’s was not. Both of them developed hostile feelings, but while the mourner would unconsciously direct them at the lost loved one, the depressed person would turn those feelings inward. According to Freud, the victim never resolves those feelings. (Freud, 1917)
Several theories about chemical imbalances in the brain emerged, most notably the norepinephrine theory that was conceived by Dr. Schildkraut in 1965, which was the belief that depression was caused by decreased levels of norepinephrine in the brain. The original tricyclic antidepressants subdued the production of serotonin and norepinephrine. Following Schildkraut was Dr. Coppen, who, in 1967, hypothesized that it was serotonin, not norepinephrine that influenced the effectiveness of anti-depressants. Coppen’s hypothesis is that depression is caused by lowered levels of the hormone serotonin. Upon depleting tryptophan, the amino acid required for serotonin production, humans may feel depressed and irritable.