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What is the diathesis stress model of depression?

1 Answer
Apr 3, 2016


A person has to be both vulnerable to depression and encounter a stressful situation.


The diathesis-stress model is a theory to explain mental illness which says that in order to become mentally ill (i.e. to get depression, schizophrenia, etc) a person has to have a natural susceptibility to that disorder and a stressful situation to trigger them.

Neither natural susceptibility nor stress alone is enough to trigger the disorder

Diathesis-stress applied to depression would say that a depressed person would be predisposed to having depression (potentially genetically) and a stressful situation to push them over the edge, such as a relationship break-up or migration.

If a person is only vulnerable to depression they will not necessarily get it. In the same way, if someone who is not vulnerable encounters a stressful situation, they will not become depressed. Both factors need to be true and entwine themselves in order for the depressive effect.