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Depression: Could It Really Be Useful?

Carr, Alexandra Noel

Depression is an epidemic. It is the most common mental disorder and affects millions of people around the world, and you can be sure that if you were to ask any one of those people, they would tell you they want to get rid of it. However, recently the growing field of evolutionary psychology has started to examine depression through the lens of evolutionary adaptation. Evolutionary psychologists analyze traits with the theory that each trait is the product of natural and/or sexual selection, and endures because it is beneficial to posses it. Therefore, we all have the same evolved set of adaptations that solved problems that were present in our ancestral environment. Many psychopathologies are not addressed in evolutionary psychology research because they present themselves only in a very small percentage of the population, but because depression affects so many people, it is very likely that it is an evolutionary advantageous adaptation. Could it really be possible that depression—a condition that is in fact defined by having a negative impact on life—was once helpful to us?

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology (Barnard College)
Degree
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
April 15, 2011
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