One problem is that no one is quite sure what causes depression. Everyone knows, or will likely know one day, what it feels like to be depressed. This is why depression is often referred to as “the common cold of mental illness. ” This essay examines the main features of the labelling theory and how this has contributed to the study of anxiety and depression. It aims to summaries modern perceptions of mental health as depicted in two recent newspaper articles.

It will also discuss contributing factors for these perceptions such as: the diagnostic system in place for mental disorders, reduced stigma by means of medicalisation, and finally recent psychotherapeutical methods employed to treat depression and anxiety holistically. It is a common perception in both newspaper articles (Metro, 7 March 2010 and The Guardian, 11 June 2010) that the numbers of medicated cases of anxiety and depression have increased dramatically over the last ten years; with six in ten of us having faced some form of mental distress in our lives. (Metro, 7 March).

While there is a general consensus about the rise in these medicated disorders, there are disputes over the cause. For example, some argue that the increase is due to ‘improved diagnosis and reduced stigma’. (Metro, 7 March). whilst others argue social factors, such as the recent recession, have a role to play. (The Guardian, 11 June 2010). A person is diagnosed with anxiety or clinical depression after meeting the criteria of symptoms in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, first published in 1952, and revised several times before the most recent version in 2000.

The DSM IV is the current reference manual used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders and lists over 200 mental health conditions and the criteria required for making an appropriate diagnosis. Before the standardisation of the classification system in the 1970’s researchers could not compare results and theories accurately, as there were so many different definitions used. The standardization was clearly an improvement as the DSM allowed for a broader view of mental illness when conducting research. However, there are also limitations to such categories, ver time, categories can become accepted boundaries and therefore research and diagnosis may only be conducted with reference only to such categories, thus limiting the prospects for progression. Howard Becker(1963 ) developed the Labelling Theory which states that labelling an individual as mentally ill not only stigmatizes that individual, but encourages or produces the very behaviour deemed to be ‘abnormal’. This illustrates that once labeled, one can define themselves, and are defined by others in relation to that label.

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Thus it could be argued that how you’re labeled determines how you feel. After all, the mere term ‘depression’ has several negative and clinical connotations- forcing the world to perceive it as a disorder. Terms such as loneliness and isolation are common substitutes which imply an actionable outcome, whereas the term ‘depression’ suggests no solution. (Mead, G. H. 1934) One would not describe a person suffering from cancer as ‘cancerous’ so why do we describe people who suffer from depression as ‘depressives’?

It is as if to say the term thoroughly describes them. Conversely, some people find relief when they learn that the symptoms they are experiencing have a name, which can offer a sense of hope and personal control over the illness as more can be learned about its causes, treatment, and outcome. http://www. allaboutdepression. com/dia_01. html However, the question is raised: Is this ‘improved diagnosis’ or is this method the catalyst behind a vicious cycle? By categorizing people, are we feeding stigmas or are we making it ok to be emotionally different from others?

Although the DSM IV states it is not used to categorise people, but to categorise the conditions people have, it has created categories within categories that at some point or another we are all susceptible to falling into. Undoubtedly the DSM IV has made great contributions to the study of mental health but can human nature be measured accurately using such a generic checklist? It could be argued it is, infact, adding to the problem of an over diagnosed society.

Wakefield (1992), argues that “the dividing line between the normal and the abnormal is fuzzy, making mental disorders difficult to predict”. (p. 30, cited by Barker, M. , Vossler, A. and Langdridge, D. 2010) Others state there is no sense in translating feelings of fear and sadness into medical conditions such as anxiety and depression. arguing that ‘fear is a ‘normal’ physiological response to threat, and sadness is a normal response to loss’ (p. 31, cited by Barker, M. , Vossler, A. and Langdridge, D. 010) The Guardian (11 June 2010) states that GP’s complain of being under increasing pressure to medicate depression and anxiety due to lack of available resources such as talk therapies, the falling costs of anti-depressants, (which are 30 per cent cheaper today than they were 10 years ago) and the ‘wider range of conditions’, (Social phobias, OCD, and bulimia), in which these drugs are now licensed to be prescribed. SSRIs are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and depression, they relieve symptoms by blocking the reuptake, of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain.

This leaves more serotonin available, which in turn improves mood. Despite this, studies have shown that SSRI’s have little to no benefit when compared to placebo tablets http://www. bmj. com/content/331/7509/155. extract One of the benefits of medicalisation is its ability to reduce blame and stigma whilst altering negative public conceptions of mental illness in general. Theoretically, the more a problem is viewed by the public as a medical illness, the less a person should be blamed for having the problem. This could be a contributing factor for the increased diagnosis.

However, cases such as shyness (which it could be argued can be diagnosed as social phobias), are seemingly undeserving. http://www. social-anxiety-shyness-info. com/shyness/diagnosing. htm, There are several alternatives to medication these include psychotherapy treatment. Sigmund Freud 1881 was responsible for the development of psychoanalysis. His theory concentrates on the unconscious psyche and develops an insight into problems that often stem from childhood. The psychodynamic approach was soon developed and derived from psychoanalysis.

It considers the role of the conscious and the unconscious psyche and how this affects relationships with others and oneself. Behaviourism followed in the 1920’s arguing that human behaviour is modified by learning, thus ‘depression is a learned behaviour that is possible to unlearn’. Mentalhelp. net. In the 1970’s and within behaviourism, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was developed and focused on changing how you think and what you do. Unlike psychoanalytical approaches, CBT concentrates on the present instead of reflecting on past experiences. This led the way for the Biopsychosocial perspective, which considers the mind and the brain as a unity’. It suggests, psychological distress can be addressed by focussing on biological, psychological or social aspects, where one aspect will ultimately affect the other. (p. 49-50 cited by Barker, M. , Vossler, A. and Langdridge, D. 2010) Researchers have demonstrated that our psychology, behaviour and social context all interact with our biology and vice versa. Therefore the “nature versus nurture” debate has been rejected in light of a more holistic view, which conceptualises and treats the problem from all three perspectives, rather than focussing on just one. Overall both articles depict a consistent message of metal health discourse being relevant to the wider population not only those with diagnosed medical disorders, calling for an end to the division into ‘them and us’. The Guardian depicts an over diagnosed society in which alternative methods of treatment are not being offered due to long waiting lists, cheaper prescription drugs and the vast range of disorders medicated by antidepressants.

The pros and cons of diagnosis are explored with benefits such as, the relief caused by having symptoms named and documented and negatives that categorising or labelling a person can bring, gaining belief in the label and defining oneself as that label and ultimately behaving in ways that relate to the label. It goes on to raise interestingly philosophical issues for example; it should be accepted as ‘normal’ that life will be hard to cope with at times, After all what is ‘normal? ’ It is a subjective concept; what is considered ‘normal’ for one person may not be ‘normal’ for another.

Therefore one should not feel pressured into conforming to another’s vision of ‘normal’. Mental health should be viewed as a spectrum which we are all placed upon. Throughout time a progressive development has been made in psychotherapy leading to a more holistic perspective in the treatment of mental disorders. The early dogmatic views of biological and psychoanalytical psychiatry have been replaced with a happy medium; the biopsychosocial perspective views mental health as a complex interplay of a range of factors. This integrated approach seems to provide the best prospects for improved results in the area of mental health care. 411 Personal reflecion: I have enjoyed exploring the discourse of mental illness but feel the word limit was rather restrictive when covering such a big issue. Biliography Barker, M. , Vossler, A. and Langdridge, D. 2010). Understanding Counseling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage Publications. Becker, H. 1963 (revised 1973). Outsiders. New York: Free Press. Mead, G. H. 1934. Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wakefield (1992) cited by Barker, M. , Vossler, A. and Langdridge, D. 2010 The Guardian, 11 June 2010, http://www. uardian. co. uk/society/2010/jun/11/antidepressant-prescriptions-rise-nhs-recession (Accessed July 2010) Metro, 7 March 2010, http://www . metro. co. uk/news/816334-six-in-ten-of-us-have-faced-mental-issues-such-as-stress-or-depression (Accessed July 2010) http://www. allaboutdepression. com/dia_01. html http://www. bmj. com/content/331/7509/155. extract (Moncrieff and Kirsch, 2005). one . Mentalhelp. net. http://openlearn. open. ac. uk/mod/oucontent/view. php? id=398160&section=4. 4 http://www. social-anxiety-shyness-info. com/shyness/diagnosing. htm,


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