n South African Psychiatry Review - Evolutionary aspects of depression, stress and subordination : review article

Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1811-7805



An evolutionary approach to depression, aims to understand psychopathological phenomena that arise from evolved molecules, emotional value systems, brain structure, and social strategies, interacting with the modern social world. I hope to show how this approach may help us, to make sense of the differing symptoms and forms of major depression and make valid empirical predictions. This suggests that core depressive symptomatology may be rooted in emotional systems, evolved to nurture, dominate, adapt to loss and defeat and be sensitive to threats and safety. It focuses on the consequences of failure to turn off the threat/defence system (HPA- axis) as the final common pathway to depression. The key role of serotonin in these processes is explored. Finally this paper offers suggestions for therapeutic interventions, based on an understanding of these interactions.

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