Introduction What Is A Developmental Perspective

During the past two decades, developmental psychopathology, which is the study of the origins and course of individual patterns of behavioural maladaptation, has emerged as a new science. It brings together and integrates a variety of disciplines, including epidemiology, genetics, psychiatry, psychology, the neurosciences, and sociology. There are many features of developmental psychopathology that could make it important, but the defining features can be reduced to three key issues (Rutter & Sroufe, 2000). The first central concept, which is at the core of much developmental research, is an emphasis on understanding the processes of development, of investigating the emergence of patterns of adaptation and maladaptation over time. Developmental analyses tend therefore to be progressive, with one step leading to another. It is recognized that the mechanisms involved in causation may involve dynamic processes over time, with several routes to the same outcome. It is also recognized that development comprises not only continuities over time, but also discontinuities. It is important to understand, for example, why depressive phenomena seem to be less prevalent at some developmental stages than others.

The second key concept is a focus on the understanding of causal processes. It is now widely understood that most mental disorders are not due to single linear causes. Individual risk factors are seldom that powerful. More often, psychopathology arises from the complex interplay of multiple risk and protective factors, some genetic and others environmental. A third key concern has been a focus on the links between normality and pathology. Much causal research in psychiatry has been based on the idea that diagnostic categories represent some kind of reality or "truth" distinct from normal behaviour. By contrast, many developmental psychopathological concepts are dimensional, with the need to take account of variations along dimensions.

* This chapter contains extracts previously published in Harrington, R. & Dubicka, B. (2001). Natural history of mood disorders in children and adolescents. Chapter 13 in I.M. Goodyer (Ed.) The Depressed Child and Adolescent (2nd edn), Cambridge University Press. Reproduced with permission.

Mood Disorders: A Handbook of Science and Practice. Edited by M. Power. © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN 0-470-84390-X.

The present chapter presents a developmental perspective on depression, with a particular focus on depression among children and adolescents. The chapter is divided into six parts. The first describes briefly the clinical features and assessment of depressive conditions among the young, the second reviews continuities of these disorders over time, and the third reviews the processes involved in continuity. The fourth section looks at the issue of discontinuity, and the factors that might protect young people from further problems. The fifth reviews the links between depression as a disorder and depressive symptoms. The chapter concludes with a review of some of the implications for treatment and prevention.

BiPolar Explained

BiPolar Explained

Bipolar is a condition that wreaks havoc on those that it affects. If you suffer from Bipolar, chances are that your family suffers right with you. No matter if you are that family member trying to learn to cope or you are the person that has been diagnosed, there is hope out there.

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