Depression negotiation hypothesis: what it is and what it offers

Depression is, along with anxiety, one of the most common psychological disorders in the general population.

Countless studies have been carried out over the past decades with the aim of explaining and understanding this pathology better and better, so that we have more effective treatments. Let’s find out which one of these explanations is: the depression trading hypothesis.

    What is the trading hypothesis of depression?

    There are many psychological currents, and each of them tries to explain different mental disorders from its point of view. One of them is evolutionary psychology.

    This school is at the origin of the hypothesis of negotiation of depression, as an explanatory model of this psychopathology. To better understand this concept, later we will delve into some of the positions that various authors have had around depression.

    The author proposing the model of the depression negotiation hypothesis is Edward H. Hagen. He argues that depression is nothing more than a state of emotional strike in which the person suffering from it, unconsciously, chooses to cease all positive emotional behavior, with the goal of causing the people around us (or the situation to it). – even), in response, cessation of activities which were maintained over time and which caused the imbalance.

    The Depression Trading Hypothesis is therefore also known as the Strike Hypothesis, because in this case our emotional state would act like the workers of a company which in search of a number of improvements (or to avoid a possible worsening of their situation)) they decide to abandon their duties to cause a situation of tension in which it is the other party who ends up giving in and accepting their demands.

    Therefore, according to Hagen, depression would act as a form of manipulation (obviously unconscious) of the individual suffering from this pathology towards the rest, Demanding that they somehow stop all the behaviors that affect him and that ended up triggering this kind of mental strike that prevents him from performing normally all the routine tasks of his life, recreation, social interaction behaviors or personal care (hygiene, restful sleep or food, etc.).

    Other evolutionary perspectives

    To better understand the implications of the depression negotiation hypothesis, it is necessary to know the other perspectives with which it opposes, in order to be able to draw a comparison between the two points of view. Therefore, we will better describe some of the models which are used in evolutionary psychology and which attempt to explain depression and its symptomatology as an adaptive reaction of our organism.

    These researchers argue that the symptomatology of sadness and bad mood has an evolutionary function, to cope with a series of stimuli and situations and to treat it properly. however, if this system fails and this mood becomes chronic, depression appears, the system would cease to be adaptive, As this would have resulted in a state in which the symptomatology would be harmful to the subject.

    Some authors talk about the importance of depression as an indicator of psychological pain (as well as fever and other warning signs of physical illness in the body). When you experience depressive symptoms, our mind would warn us to stop all those activities that can generate, Working as a kind of alarm in order to regain stability as quickly as possible, away from harmful elements.

    However, supporters of the non-adaptive mechanism claim that this system does not work, because depressive symptoms in their most severe state cease to be a mere warning sign, to become a severe symptomatology that gradually consumes the individual who suffers from it. suffers, affecting their rest, their diet, their social relationships and ultimately all levels of a person’s life, which obviously not only does not help, but it hurts a lot.

      The case of postpartum depression

      According to Hagen’s approaches, there is one special case in which the negotiation hypothesis on depression applies better than any other, and that is that of postpartum depression. The explanation given by Edward Hagen is that women who suffer from this disorder are usually seen a deficit of the environmental support they needSo, subconsciously, your body would develop depressive symptoms like a kind of strike seeking the help it needs.

      In this sense, postpartum depression would be an automatic alarm of the body and the mind, an indicator for the mother herself, who would be warned that the resources available to her to cope with a situation as demanding as the education of a child is insufficient. This effect is further aggravated in cases where children suffer from any illness or disease. the physical and mental cost of moving the situation forward is even higher.

      At this point, the depression denial hypothesis would tie into another theory in evolutionary psychology which, while controversial in its approach, follows some logic. This is the hypothesis of parental investment, developed by Robert Trivers. What Trivers claims, among other things, is that the cost that parenthood entails for parents will only be realized if the return is higher, that is, if the investment pays off, speaking in terms of economy. .

      This theory was applied at a time when humans were just one more animal, in a harsh environment, and sometimes it was not possible to obtain the resources needed to advance animal husbandry, so efforts were concentrated on the next creature. Adapted to the present, what the author tells us is that postpartum depression would warn the mother of this danger, So that he seeks the necessary help, so that the situation is reversed so that he can raise his child satisfactorily.

      Seek help

      In the previous point, we focused the hypothesis of negotiating depression in postpartum depression, but in reality this theory could be applied to any of the areas in which this pathology arises, since ultimately the function is exactly the same. And it is that depression would be a cry for help both for the affected person and for all those around him: your partner, your family, your friends, your colleagues or any other person around you.

      It is important not to confuse grief with depressionAs there are vital situations that produce this symptomology as marked by a depressed mood as a sentimental breakdown, the loss of a loved one, a dismissal, and many others. The problem would be the chronification of these symptoms after a certain time. If months go by and the person still does not experience improvement, we should consider the possibility of pathology and therefore the depression trading hypothesis would be applied.

      That a person has a very low mood and constantly experiences feelings of sadness over the death of a loved one, for example, makes sense, if they had a good bond with them. The strange case would be that this symptomatology was not present in any way. However, if months or even years go by and this symptomatology is not reduced and even worsened, all indicators would indicate that the person has ceased to experience a common duel and is suffering from depression, then I would need to help.

      Of course, the importance of seeking help from a psychologist should not be overlooked to overcome depression, as the help and support of family and friends is always needed, but sometimes it is not enough and requires therapy with a professional who is the one who gives the patient the tools to move forward and leave the depressive symptoms behind once and for all.

      And it is that the training of a psychologist gives him the ability to carry out this demanding and complex task, for which non-professionals do not need to be trained.

      Bibliographic references:

      • Hagen, EH (2003). The Depression Trading Model. To P. Hammerstein (Ed.), Report of the Dahlem workshop. Genetic and cultural evolution of cooperation. MIT Press.
      • Hagen, EH (2002). Depression as negotiation: the postpartum case. Evolution and human behavior. Elsevier.
      • Hagen, EH, Rosenström, T. (2016). Explaining the Gender Difference in Depression with a Unified Anger and Depression Negotiation Model. Evolution, medicine and public health.
      • Rosenström, T. (2013). Negotiating models of depression and the evolution of cooperation. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Elsevier.

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