Etiological paradigms of depression: The relationship between perceived causes, empowerment, treatment preferences, and stigma


Journal Article (Review)

Background: There is a growing trend to view depression as a biological illness rather than a psychosocial condition, even though there is no consensus as to what causes depression. Furthermore, there are mixed data on the impact of advocating the biological model. Aims: This study examined public perceptions concerning the etiology of depression as well as the relationship between such perceptions and treatment preferences, empowerment, and stigma. Method: Survey techniques were used to assess how 66 college students view the etiology of depression. Etiology beliefs, as well as demographic data, were regressed upon measures of treatment preference, empowerment, and stigma. Results: Factor analysis produced three distinct models of etiology: biological, psychological, and environmental. Regression analyses showed that endorsement of the biological model was associated with increased empowerment, preference for psychotherapy, and decreased stigma. Endorsing the psychological model was associated with an increased belief that people can help themselves and increased stigma. Endorsing the environmental model was associated with a mixture of positive and negative beliefs concerning depression. Conclusions: Endorsement of each etiological model is associated with both positive and negative consequences. The current public emphasis on viewing depression as biologically based should thus be viewed with some caution. Declaration of interest: None.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Goldstein, B; Rosselli, F

Published Date

  • December 1, 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 551 - 563

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0963-8237

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/09638230310001627919

Citation Source

  • Scopus