Examples Of Diagnostic Criterion For Unipolar Depression, As Defined In The Dsm Iv , In William Styron's Darkness Visible: A Memoir Of Madness

2834 words - 11 pages

I. Assessment of William StyronA. Introduction to Major Depressive DisorderUnipolar depression is one of the most common forms of psychopathology. According to the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, the lifetime risk for major depressive disorder is approximately five percent. Common symptoms of major depressive disorder include, but are not limited to, feelings of disappointment and despair, fatigue, loss of energy, changes in appetite and/or sleep disturbances, feelings of worthlessness, concentration problems, thoughts of suicide, slowed thinking, and chronic tension or anxiety. Depressed patients often subjectively describe the disorder as a feeling of drowning or suffocation.B. Application of Diagnostic (DSM-IV) CriteriaThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV) lists nine symptoms of major depressive disorder, at least five of which must have been present during the same two week period and represent a change from previous functioning in order for a diagnosis to be made. Also, at least one of the symptoms must either be depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure. William Styron, author of Darkness Visible: a Memoir of Madness clearly depicts all nine symptoms in his autobiographical account of depression.The first of the nine symptoms listed in DSM-IV is depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by subjective report (for example, feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (for example, appears tearful). Styron repeatedly shows symptoms of and describes depressed mood. He explains depression as "the gloom," (pg. 7), anxiety, dread, drowning, suffocation, "the devastation taking place in my mind" (pg. 49), intense misery, numbness, despair, "the gray drizzle of horror" (pg. 50), desolation, torture, and suffering. Others had noticed outward symptoms of Styron's depressed mood. A photographer that had shot Styron for a magazine article called him back for a second shoot because the first photos were "too full of anguish" (pg. 58). Styron illustrates the pervasiveness of the disorder when he writes, "Sometimes I felt close to being reasonably sane" (pg. 26), and, "The disorder gradually took full possession of my system" (pg. 47).The second diagnostic criterion listed in the DSM-IV is markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated either by subjective account or observation by others). Styron had gone to France to receive a notable award for his work as an author and claimed he "wasn't cheered by the festive occasion" (pg. 5). Instead he felt a sense of joylessness. Styron described events in which he would normally be jovial, yet he couldn't even force himself to laugh. He had once loved his writing, but Styron stated that once he began to feel the devastating effects of depression, "...the act of writing itself, becoming more and more difficult and exhausting, stalled, then finally ceased" (pg. 46). A...

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