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Mystery and myth have long plagued people who struggle with mental disorders. Science is slowly advancing, but personal stories are also needed in order to dispel long-held stereotypes that may cause shame, blame, and/or prevent persons who may need mental health care from seeking it. For these reasons, I am compelled to share my story.

My current diagnoses include Major Depressive disorder; moderate, recurrent, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Agoraphobia with Panic disorder. It is a daily struggle that began around the age of 14, but when I finally got the right diagnosis and a partner who was patient, loving, and stubborn enough to see me through my difficult journey. This empowered me and motivated me to become proactive in my mental health. It has been a long and slow road. I am making progress, but the task requires tireless patience, dedication, acceptance, and social support. If you are a friend, family member, co-worker, or provide services to persons with mental disorders, are you supportive, silent, or judgmental toward that person?

In addition to working toward a B.A. in social and behavioral sciences, (Interesting note: Only 8% of those diagnosed with mental disorders attend college, according to NAMI.) I attend two weekly sessions of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, am involved in mental health advocacy, continuously read research, and study state, Federal and international mental health law.

There are several compelling arguments and evidence supporting both sides of the nature/nurture debate. Yet, concrete science remains elusive. Nevertheless, I, like most people, have an opinion on the subject. Mine begins with biosocial theory.


From this perspective, rather than see the dilemma as a question of nature vs. nurture, I believe that nature and nurture are equally capable of contributing to the development of depression. Here is a visual explanation.


On the other hand, I think that the degree to which nature and nurture influence the risk for individuals developing depression probably varies somewhat. The following chart proposes a method for measuring nature vs. nurture risks for depression using a biosocial model as a basis.

 

  • Disclaimer: The following test is a tool designed specifically for this discussion. It is purely theoretical and does not propose to diagnose or treat any mental disorder. If you or someone you know thinks, you may have depression or other mental health issues; see a professionally licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist for a complete psychological evaluation.

My Biosocial Based Questionnaire for Resolving for Determining Individual Nature vs. Nurture Depression Risks

* Directions: Each yes answer = 1. Add each column. The column with the greater sum is your greater risk potential

Nature

Nurture

Does the individual have a family history of Depression? Does the individual have current financial, health, or relational problems?
Is the individual currently taking or recently stopped taking any medications or street drugs? What were parenting methods used in childhood? (Positive/Negative re-enforcement, Punishment/Reward, Neglect, Strictness, violence, sexual abuse)
Is the individual exposed to any hazardous chemicals or have any health deficiencies (lack of sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, etc.) Does the individual currently have supportive relationships with family, friends, and/or co-workers?

If you want to read the facts from the experts and come to your own conclusion, the following links offer current information from reliable sources that provide evidence for both sides of the depression nature vs. nurture debate.

ajp.psychiatryonline.org – Scientific Foundations of Cognitive Theory and Therapy of Depression

nimh.nih.gov/2010 – Same genes suspected in depression and bipolar disorder

surgeongeneral.gov – The Fundamentals of Mental Health and Mental Illness

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