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The Classification and Explanation of Depression

  • Samuel Clack (a1) and Tony Ward (a1) (a2)

Abstract

In the field of psychopathology there is still a lack of consensus on how mental disorders, such as depression, should be classified and explained. Many of our current classifications suffer from disorder heterogeneity and are conceptually vague. While some researchers have argued that mental disorders are better explained from a biological perspective, others have made the case for pluralistic and integrative explanations. Using depression as an extended example, we explore the challenges in classifying and explaining psychopathology. We begin by evaluating the current approaches to classification, including frameworks for what we consider a mental disorder. This is followed by a detailed summary of current explanatory perspectives in psychiatry. The relationship between classification and explanation presents unique theoretical challenges in understanding mental disorders. We suggest that by adjusting our focus from understanding syndromes to clinical phenomena we can advance our understanding of mental disorders.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Samuel Clack, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand. Email: samuel.clack@vuw.ac.nz

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The Classification and Explanation of Depression

  • Samuel Clack (a1) and Tony Ward (a1) (a2)

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