The behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristics of Depression.

Description, AO1:

Depression – Behavioural, Emotional and Social Characteristics

Depression is classified as a mood disorder. DSM-V distinguishes between major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder which is long term and/or recurring.

Behavioural Symptoms/Characteristics of Depression:

Shift in activity levelsIndividuals may see a reduction or increase in their activities. Many individuals experience reduced energy levels, a sense of tiredness and a need to sleep all of the time. Some become increasingly agitated and restless and may pace around the room.
SleepSome individual sleep more whilst other individuals sleep less.
AppetiteThere is  a great variation in this factor, some individuals eat more whilst others eat less.

Emotional Symptoms/Characteristics of Depression:

Formal diagnosisA formal diagnosis requires that an individual holds five symptoms of depression which must include either sadness or loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities.
SadnessA very common feeling associated amongst depression sufferers (along with feelings of emptiness). People may feel worthless, hopeless, have low-self-esteem (generally suffer from negative emotions).
Loss of interest/pleasureIn usual hobbies and activities. Such behaviour is often associated with the feeling of losing control.
AngerDirected towards others or turned inwards on the self.


Cognitive Symptoms/Characteristics of Depression:

Negative self-conceptAn individual may feel guilt or that they are worthless/don’t matter.
Negative view of the worldAn expectation that things are always going to turn out badly rather than positively.
Negative view of the futureDepression sufferers believe that negative situations are never going to change.

There are many psychological and biological explanations of depression however, as part of the AQA Psychology A level specification the requirement is that students can explain depression from a Cognitive perspective. Click here to learn about the Cognitive Explanation of depression.

Click here to learn how Cognitive psychologists would treat depression.