comment by [deleted] ·
2014-06-18T11:40:50.561Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Some thoughts on the topic. My initial view of depression has been that it's an evolutionary thing that does something beneficial socially. Once the environment has changed considerably, this response does not work to one's favor anymore. So that has been how I view it. I read the wikipedia's hypotheses from MarkL's link and I think all of them made a lot of sense. Essentially my predisposition was that of "Possibilities of depression as dysregulated adaptation".
What seems to be missing from the discussion is the order in which things evolve. For an example the theory on that wikipedia page about prevention of infection does make sense, from the perspective of if someone close to the person passes away from a disease then it might be a good trigger for timing a preparation sequence for infection. But then on the otherhand for this to make sense it would probably have to take place in a social environment, if the very closest person to you in a non-social environment would have this happen, then perhaps the timing of the depression to guard against infection would be off.
I suppose the wikipedia page contemplates on this issue from a general means of avoiding infection, which I think is a pretty questionable hypothesis. Would seem like general depression is not a good state to maintain, or activate randomly for long periods of time, and I think it would require a trigger or a timing to be logical from the adaptation perspective.
Analytical rumination seems really interesting. I think that makes sense on many levels, reconsidering what you're doing, as well as avoiding activity before engaging with problems. To get slightly depressed every now and then might result into optimization of behavior or more accurate refinement of goals by temporarily increasing reflective behavior and downregulation of activity and intensity of goal oriented behavior. So whenever there is a drastic depressive change then it would make sense to go things over again.
I think the honest signaling theory is really interesting too, but I think of that as a component to signalling in general, all strong signals could be argued to benefit from honesty, and only after the honestiness of signaling has altered the environment, dishonest signaling becomes advantageous. I think of that kind of stuff in the following terms: First a system needs to evolve succesfully before some other system can develop a parasitic relationship to it. In otherwords you wouldn't have dishonest signaling before a system of signaling is in place, all signaling has to be honest before some of it can be dishonest. But these signals on the otherhand have much longer history than humans do, so it's pretty hard to pin point what happened and when.
Behavioral shutdown model makes a lot of sense from the same perspective as analytical rumination. Losing interest in current goals and patterns due to failure, and going into a waiting mode to find new goals.
If depression would be viewed as a quantitative effect on behavior, then you could also see it as a mechanism of improving the individuals ability to optimize for behavior's rewards:stress ratio. So if you be inclined to do very stressful things due to the way you were brought up or by some individual characteristic, and in return you would have very low gain, then it would make sense for there to be a system inplace which corrects you behavior and optimizes rewards:stress ratio of you behavior.
So with that particular way of phrasing the shutdown model it essentially becomes the psychic pain hypotheses, both have the same purpose. However psychic pain hypothesis adds something to it, the idea of seeing the depressed state as unwanted state and things that cause it as something to be avoided.
Rank theory seems also very interesting. However is that a special case of behavioral shutdown model, or is a generic phenomenom of it's own? To put it in other words.. Let's say an individual is striving towards leadership of the tribe, and keeps failing. It would make sense that these attempts could be very costly and the returns could be very low, and backing off and giving those plans attempts could result to more efficient behavior. So in that case it would be the behavioral shutdown and psychic pain combined. But the rank theory does add it's own component, which the ranks, steering towards a role more suitable for the rank. I can't see why this behavior pattern couldn't be dynamic and function in both circumstances.
I think the social risk hypothesis is very close to the rank hypothesis.
I think depression also signals genuine relationships between people, from the honest signaling perspective. How would the other members of the tribe react to somebody who had a long lasting relationship with someone, and then they wouldn't mourn for that person at all - wouldn't really be affected at all? How would that be met? Would that kind of person be trustworthy at all? People who have strong bonds would be willing to go to amazing lengths to save their friends. Cetrainly you can't be a person like that, if you're not even touched by losing someone close to you. So I think that does have to do with depression.
Personally I think depression is largely about the society growing too big.
If people get depressed here they can be left outside the society, and they're not involved with the society on an emotional level which involves communities, relationships, but instead are just sort of interacting only on the surface of the society, not being really involved with anyone.
In a smaller tribal community this apathetic withdrawal behavior probably wouldn't work like it does in the modern individualistically secular society. Where as in the modern society a valuable member of tribe can be forgotten inside her single room apartment, I don't think that would happen in a tribe of 80 hunter gatherers. As humans are capable of being sympathetic, you might not starve all that easily, and perhaps other people would be interested in why you're in your depressive state, and perhaps that would lead to forming new relationships and losing the depression. There would be duties to do.
So I think depression can also be a result of social deprivation, and in a different circumstance the behavior might result to new relationships being formed. While in the real world, psychiatrists, people you mee on street, cashiers in shops your co-workers, perhaps even friends, might not form a real relationship with you. You could just be on surface, acting along these wordly guidelines and ideas of how an individual is supposed to exist. This has very tragic implications if these people are then directed to interact with individuals who most certainly can't form real relationships due to their professional ethics. It's pretty common that the patients can form strong attraction or bond to the their nurse or shrink. Everybody can be phony, people wear their faces like masks on their jobs, they restrict from expressing their real emotions, they cocoon inside their shells and on the outside they're like an illusion. Friendships and relationships that real are really important to people emotionally. It's important to form bonds and have a feeling of community. In a sense the business world has ruined it all. We're co-operating social people but the way you've to do that co-operation is now harnessed by this system of selfishness and cruel deception. Even loved ones can be very treacherous and negligent towards their partners, building up some superficial idea of what an individual's conjunctionally possessed partnership is about.