Evolutionary Psychology and Understanding Depression

evolutionary psychologyWe are glad to finally have a summary of a fascinating conversation with Dr. Julio Ozores up on this site in our “Conversations” series.

Dr. Ozores challenges us to think about depression in a new way. Although many of us struggle with the negative effects of depression in our lives, are (or were) there benefits to depression that have led to the preservation of the trait in our gene pool?

Or, to think about it in a different way, why does depression not only persist, but exist in every society around the world at about the same rate, if people with depression have a higher rate of early death, and a lower rate of reproduction? Shouldn’t the genes that are associated with it have long since disappeared?

Dr. Ozores suggests that certain kinds of depression (brief depression linked to real stressors) may serve a useful purpose – causing us to pull back from possibly overly ambitious plans when these plans go wrong or there is evidence in the environment that this is not a good time for ambitious plans.

For more on this topic read the interview and, at the end of that interview, Dr. Ozores has kindly given us a copy of a professional presentation he gave on this topic.