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NIAS Seminar

"Is Depression an Evolved Adaptation?"

When 22 June 2017 from 11:30 to 12:30 hrs
Where Conference Room, Jorishof, Korte Spinhuissteeg 3
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Members of the Theme Group "My Optimism Wears Heavy Boots: So much research, so few implications, towards ‘patient-proof’ empirical models and more effective interventions in mental health" hold a seminar on the evolution of depression. 

About the Seminar

There is reason to think that depression may be an evolved adaptation that serves a functional purpose. Pain produces physical discomfort but people born with congenital analgesia have shortened life expectancies. Anxiety is emotionally distressing but primates who are high in neuroticism outlive their less anxious peers. Fevers are uncomfortable but represent the body’s way of hastening the end of an infection. Most true “illnesses” have onsets in the first year of life or among the aged; depression is most likely to begin during adolescence when people are entering their peak productive and reproductive years. All this suggests that depression is an evolved adaptation that serves a functional purpose. Depression increases the amount of extracellular serotonin and that in turn leads to an increased resistance to distraction and a loss of interest in other hedonic pursuits. The consequence may be to keep the individual focused on the complex problem (usually interpersonal) that triggered the depression until some resolution is found. The fact that women are twice as likely to get depressed as men and that they have greater reason to maintain good social relations (for the sake of their offspring) is consistent with the notion that depression is an evolved adaptation that serves a functional purpose.

About NIAS Seminars

NIAS Seminars are aimed to stimulate scientific cross-pollination within the NIAS academic community, but seminars are open to others who are interested. Please  if you wish to attend.

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